A disability lawyer or Disability representative in North Carolina is only paid if your case is won. This is because the fee for representing a disability claim is based on a percentage of whatever disability backpay you are eligible to receive under either the Social Security Disability or SSI disability program.
The most a disability representative can be paid is 25% of your back pay, up to a maximum of $6000. This means that if a person was won and the back pay was $1000, the representative would receive $250 as the fee. If the back pay was $24,000, the representative would pay $6000 as the fee. But the fee can never exceed $6000. And the payment of the fee is handled by Social Security so the claimant never really has to deal with it.
So, to recap, if your disability case is not won, then there is no back pay and, thus, no fee will be paid to the representative. By the same token, though, if your case is won and you are only eligible for continuing monthly disability benefits, but not eligible to receive any back payments, the representative would also not be able to receive a fee.
This makes it possible for anyone to have representation on a Social Security Disability or SSI claim because you pay nothing upfront. And if the case is won, Social Security handles the fee payment. Also, our office is somewhat unique because we do not charge for other expenses such as for getting your medical evidence gathered.
The fact that the fee payment system is set up this way gives your lawyer or representative in North Carolina a very strong incentive to not only win your claim for you, but also to win the highest possible amount of back payment money for you.
This is done, of course, by proving the earliest possible onset date for your disability. How is this done? By analyzing your medical records to find specific evidence that proves your condition or conditions satisfies the Social Security Administration guidelines for receiving disability benefits as of a certain date.
In this sense a disability representative who handles a disability case is very similar in what they do to a disability examiner (I can speak authoritatively on this since I am a disability representative who is also a former disability examiner).
For those who are unaware, the examiner at NC DDS, otherwise known as North Carolina disability determination services, is the individual who actually reviews your claim and makes an approval or denial. The examiner is assigned to the case after your disability application is taken at a local Social Security field office.