How do Disability Lawyers in Florida get paid their fees?

A disability representative can be an attorney, or a non-attorney disability representative, many of whom are former SSA claims reps (claims reps work in Social Security field offices) and former disability examiners (such as the author of, Tim Moore).

Regardless of who provides representation on a case, fees are handled the same way. In fact, fees for representation are regulated by the Social Security Act and are administered by the Social Security Administration.

1. In the Social Security Disability and SSI system, there are no upfront fees. The fee is only paid to a disability lawyer or representative in Florida if the claim is won.

2. The fee is paid to the representative regardless of what level the claim is won at. This includes the disability application level, the reconsideration appeal level, and the Social Security hearing level. Some individuals will choose to forgo representation at the levels of the system proceeding the hearing in order to save the cost of the fee, but this is sometimes a mistake.

While a small percentage of claims will be approved at the first level of the system, roughly 30 percent, very few claims are approved at the first appeal level. At that level, the reconsideration level, the rate of approval in most states falls to 15 percent or lower. Additionally, there are instances in which a disability representative or lawyer in Florida can present evidence that wins the case at either the reconsideration or application state.

When this occurs, the claimant may save as much as a year or longer in processing time on their claim (hearings often take a year to get scheduled after a request has been submitted).

3. The fee that is paid to a representative or lawyer in Florida is equal to one-fourth of whatever back pay the claimant is found to be owed. The maximum fee that is payable to a representaive in Florida, however, is $6000.

This means that if a claimant receives $10,000 in back pay, the representative will be due $2500, which is one-quarter of the back pay. But if the claimant receives $30,000 in back pay, the attorney or non-attorney who has handled the claim will not receive $7500 (one-fourth), but $6000 since the fee is capped at this amount.

4. The Social Security Administration will handle the payment of the fee to the claimant's representative by deducting the fee from the calculated back payment and sending it to the attorney or non-attorney, making the process for the claimant less complicated.

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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