How much does it cost to hire a Social Security Disability attorney in California?

Individuals who provide representation services on Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims (either a disability attorney or a non attorney representative) are not paid upfront. Quite the reverse, they are paid on contingency -- meaning a claimant does not pay a fee until a case has been won...regardless of how long the case takes (and this, unfortunately, can take years).


1. The cost to hire a disability lawyer
2. Max fee for a disability lawyer
3. Cost and Expenses of a Disability lawyer or Disability Representative
4. Does Social Security pay the Disability Attorney fee?

This, of course, poses a tremendous advantage for disability claimants because it allows virtually any disability claimant to find representation, provided, of course, that their case has merit.

How much does it cost to hire an attorney or a non attorney representative? Representatives are paid by receiving a percentage of a claimant's disability back pay and this percentage is currently twenty-five percent. In other words, if a claimant's case is won and the claimant's back pay amounts to $20,000, the attorney or non attorney who handled the claim would be entitled to receive $5000 as the fee.

Is a representative's fee capped at a certain limit? Yes, it is. Though an attorney or non attorney rep can receive 21% of a disability claimant's backpay, the total fee cannot exceed a maximum amount. Currently, the maximum allowable fee is $6000.

Can an attorney or non attorney representative receive any compensation other than the fee that is specified by the social security administration? Yes, and this will vary from representative to representative. Many reps will charge for the cost of gathering a claimant's medical records and for the cost of obtaining statements from a claimant's doctors (yes, doctors do charge for this, and some doctors charge quite a bit).

Such costs are completely normal and valid, of course, and the representative is simply advancing expenses upfront with the understanding that the costs will be repaid when representation has been concluded (note: unlike the fee, which is paid ONLY if a case is won, reimbursement for the cost of records is often required win or lose---thankfully, the cost of records does not usually exceed two hundred dollars).

What an attorney or non attorney advocate may decide to charge for other expenses should be clearly spelled out in the fee agreement. For this reason, a person who is pursuing social security or SSI disability benefits should read their fee agreement before signing with a particular rep. Because when it comes to incidentals, not everyone charges the same thing. Remember, though: the fee itself is non-negotiable as this is dictated by thesocial security administration.

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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