How do Disability Lawyers in Pennsylvania get paid their fees?
Under the Social Security Disability (and SSI) system, a fee for representation in Pennsylvania is only payable to the attorney or non-attorney representative after the case has been won. This is because the fee for representation is based on a percentage of whatever back pay you are eligible to receive. This fact guarantees that the majority of claimants who would like assistance on their claim will be able to obtain representation. It also guarantees that nothing can be charged upfront.
Lawyers and non-attorney representatives are usually paid through the Social Security Disability fee withholding. This means Social Security will withhold your representative's fee from your back payment if they are a lawyer or non-attorney representative with fee withholding. If your non-attorney representative does not have fee withholding, you will be responsible for paying the fee out of your disability back payment. However, in either case, the individual who handled your case will be paid out of the back pay that Social Security pays you.
How much is the attorney fee?
Social Security representatives are not allowed to charge any kind of retainer or upfront attorney fees. They agree to a fee of 21% of any disability back payment up to a maximum fee of $ 6000.00. They can take a portion of your spouse's or children's back payments if 21% of your own back payment did not result in a fee of $6000.00. However, the fee is a cumulative total that can never exceed the $6000.00 maximum fee amount.
Disability attorneys and non-attorney representatives are also allowed to charge for any incidental expenses incurred during the representation of your disability case. Incidental expenses typically include the cost of any medical records or statements from your doctors that are obtained to be used as evidence in your case.
The fee agreement
Most representatives have you sign a fee agreement that addresses the normal Social Security fee and whatever incidental expenses they expect to be paid. Some representatives only charge these expenses if they win your disability case, while others charge the expenses whether they win or lose. It is extremely important to read your fee agreement carefully before signing, because these agreements are legally binding contracts.
If your lawyer or representative does not win your disability case, they are not entitled to receive a fee for their representation, however they are still allowed to charge for any out of pocket expenses agreed to in the fee agreement.
Also, if they do win your disability claim but your entitlement date is a future date and there is no disability back payment, they are not allowed to charge a fee for representation, but again you are responsible for any out of pocket expenses incurred during your disability claim.
Return to: Social Security Disability Questions page