Does the fee for a disability lawyer fee have a cap?

The lawyer I am considering hiring wants me to pay 21% of back-pay with no cap if I win at any step after my case has been to the appeals council for the first time (i.e., if I win in federal court , or I win at any time after a federal court or appeals council remand.)

Furthermore, the contract does not limit my attorney's right to file a fee petition if there are no back benefits payable. Is this normal?

For those who are unaware, I will point out that a disability attorney or non-attorney representative is paid by receiving a percentage of a claimant's back pay. So there is no fee payable to a representative unless the case is won which is beneficial to disability claimants because it makes it easier to obtain representation as they do not have pay anything upfront to get assistance on a claim.

That percentage is currently 25 percent of whatever back pay the claimant receives. However, it cannot exceed a certain maximum. That maximum has changed several times over the last twenty years and the following pages provide the current amount and other relevant information:

How much does a Social Security Disability attorney get paid?

What Expenses Will A Social Security Attorney Charge In Addition To The Fee?

Now, to answer your question:

In reading the SSA regulations, it appears that this may very well be normal. You do not have to take your claim to Federal Court, you could file a new disability claim and go through the process again. The protected maximum on a fee agreement appears to end at the Appeal Council. Go to Google and search the reference below.

GN 03920.060 Attorneys' Fees for Representation in Proceedings Before a Court

Hope this helps you.

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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