What Expenses Will A Social Security Attorney Charge In Addition To The Fee?
The Social Security Disability process allows individuals who are filing for disability to hire an attorney or a non-attorney representative to represent their case. Attorneys or non-attorneys represent disability cases for a fee amount. The fee is regulated by SSA and is one-fourth of any back payment the claimant has received, up to a certain maximum (to see the current max: What is the maximum fee that a disability attorney can be paid?).
When a disability claimant signs the fee agreement with an attorney or representative they are signing a legally binding contract in which they agree to pay the attorney or representative the agreed upon fee and any incidental expenses outlined in the fee agreement.
Incidental expenses could include but are not limited to medical records, vocational experts, phone calls, travel, copying, etc. Some attorneys and representatives ask that the expenses be paid whether an individual wins or loses the claim while others collect only if they win the disability claim.
Usually, the cost of getting medical records is always an expected expense. Attorneys or representatives require the claimant to pay for the cost of medical records, or they ask for repayment of medical records cost once a decision has been made.
A fee agreement could contain just about any agreed upon expense and as long as both the attorney and disability claimant sign the agreement, it is valid. That is why it is so important for disability claimants to read their fee agreement carefully before signing it. If a disability claimant has difficulty reading and comprehending, they should take it to someone who can read and understand so they know what they are agreeing to pay the representative or attorney.
Social Security allows attorneys and representatives to collect a fee and allowable incidental fees to encourage them to represent disability claimants who often have no money or very little money. Most disability claimants could not afford representative if they had to pay a retainer or a regular hourly legal fee to an attorney or representative.
Naturally, this would greatly disadvantage disability claimants who were not able to keep up with their paperwork, or those who have to attend an administrative law judge disability hearing.
Most disability claimants need to have someone who is familiar with the Social Security medical and vocational guidelines represent them before an administrative law judge. Although there is no rule that states a disability claimant has to have an attorney or a non-attorney representative for their disability claim, Social Security provides disability claimants an opportunity to have legal representation.
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.
Questions and Answers
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