Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Why do people choose not to be represented at a Disability Hearing?

In a prior post, I spoke of the fact that, while some disability judges will point out to an unrepresented claimant (a person who shows up at a social security disability hearing without a disability attorney and, most likely, without any form of hearing preparation as well) the fact that they can reschedule their hearing and obtain representation, many judges will not take the time to do this. In short, they will disadvantage the people who appear before them by not informing them of their right to representation. Which is a shame. However, it begs the question. Why do some people choose not to be represented at a disability hearing?


1. What to expect at a disability hearing
2. What happens when you go to a disability hearing?
3. Preparing for a Disability Hearing
4. Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing

As someone who works in a social security field recently commented to me, "so many of them don't understand the pay thing". What this individual meant was that a large percentage of individuals who file for disability don't know that they can afford to hire a disability lawyer. They mistakenly conclude that such representation will be extremely costly and that the cost will be prohibitive. They also make the mistake of assuming that the cost of a disability attorney will be something they have to endure "upfront".

In actuality, it doesn't work this way at all when it comes to social security disability administrative law. The fee system for representation on SSD and SSI disability cases is setup so that any person may be represented in a claim, with no upfront cost, and with no risk of loss if the case is not won by the disability lawyer.

Essentially, it works like this. A claimant who desires representation will contact an attorney or a non-attorney representative and state their desire for representation. Typically, what will follow is a brief interview and then the signing and filing of certain disability forms. These will include medical release forms used by the social security administration, an appointment of representative form (the form SSA-1696), and, of course, the fee agreement. The fee agreement, and its language is guided by provisions set forth by the social security administration. And a fee agreement that steps outside these bounds can be rejected by SSA.

What does a fee agreement between a disability attorney and a claimant stipulate? That the representative may receive up to one-fourth of the claimant's disability back pay. However, this is capped to a certain maximum (currently set at $6000.00). It also indicates that the fee is payable only if the claimant's case is won and disability benefits are awarded to the claimant. Since the fee is based on back pay, which is only given to a case that is awarded, how could it be otherwise?

The primary cost factors that should be kept in mind by applicants for disability benefits are simply the following:

A) the fee you pay to a disability representative is only incurred if the case is won and it is limited to one-fourth of the back pay, up to a maximum of $6000.00 and

B) there are no upfront costs.

Are there additional costs that must be paid by a represented claimant to a representative? Yes, in most cases, a person who is represented will also be expected to reimburse the attorney for the cost of obtaining medical records, which will typically be less than $300.00 in most cases. However, this is also a cost that is typically not paid upfront. Most attorneys will not bill for records until the case has been won (meaning the claimant will receive monthly benefits and disability back pay).

Note--if you speak to a disability representative and they make it clear that they would like a fee for out-of-pocket costs (such as for gathering records) upfront, find someone else. Also, if the prospective representative makes it clear that they will bill for incidentals such as the cost of postage and printer paper and may wish to take a pass on this rep and keep looking elsewhere for assistance.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How to file for disability in Texas TX
Applying for disability with Schizophrenia
Can I get disability for Rheumatoid arthritis?
Social Security Disability, SSI, and autoimmune disorders
Social Security Disability Requirements For Personal Assets
Applying for disability with panic attacks
Applying for permanent disability with liver disease and a spinal fusion
Social Security Disability for insomnia or sleep disorders
Applying for disability with a cervical spine discectomy and fusion
Social Security Disability Maximum back pay
How much money will I get for disability if I get approved?
SSI back pay benefits
Can a letter from a doctor get you approved for disability?
Social Security Disability Claims and Medical Exams
Factors involved in Winning SSDI or SSI Claims

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What mental problems qualify for disability?
SSI disability status
How to prove you qualify for disability
Qualifying for disability eligibility requirements
How Does Social Security Decide If You Are Disabled
How much does disability pay?
Factors involved in Winning SSDI or SSI Claims
Applying for disability with Degenerative Disc Disease
How long to get a Social Security decision letter?
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
The amount of back pay that you receive
Social Security medical disability determination process
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits?
How Long Does A Social Security Disability Appeal Take?
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Benefits When You First File?
Can you work if you get SSI disability?
Social Security Disability attorney fees
Am I eligible to receive disability benefits?
What are the non medical requirements for disability
How to get SSI
Approved for disability benefits
SSD SSI disability hearing decision