If I lose my case, or win but do not get back pay, will I still owe a representation fee?
"If I don't get disability back pay, will I have to pay a lawyer fee?"
A disability attorney or non-attorney rep cannot be paid a fee if there is no back pay. This is specifically because of the way that they are paid, which is strictly regulated by the Social Security Administration.
This is how individuals who represent disability claims are paid: 1/4 of the back pay up to a max of $6000 (this is the maximum fee payable as of 2016. Keep in mind that this amount could change in future years). The attorneys and non-attorney reps are fully aware of this and this is simply how things are done. To see the current max fee go here: Maximum disability attorney fee.
Basically, if there was no back pay, you do not owe a fee. Obviously, a person will not owe back pay when they have not won their case. But there are cases in which ongoing benefits are won but there is still no back pay. This is more likely to be true if the case was won quickly (because most back pay is a result of the case taking a very long time in the appeals process).
Keep in mind that if you do not owe a fee, you may still owe the representative other costs (usually reimbursement for obtaining medical records) that you agreed to when you hired the representative (very often, this is the cost that was incurred for getting your medical records) but there would not be a fee payable for representation provided if there was no back pay in the case.
Here are some related pages on the site:
1. Disability back pay, how long?
2. What is the maximum SSDI back pay?
3. How far back will Social Security pay SSDI back pay benefits?
4. When can I expect my first disability check and my back pay check?
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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