Social Security Disability ATTORNEY FEES IN TEXAS

How Much Are The Fees For A Disability Lawyer In Texas?

If you have a Social Security Disability claim or appeal pending in Texas, you should consider obtaining the services of a disability representative. This individual may be a disability lawyer or a non-attorney disability representative. The Social Security Disability and SSI system is an administrative-legal system and for this reason a non-attorney may represent a claim. In practical terms, there is no difference between the two and many non-attorney representatives are former disability examiners and SSA field office claims representatives.

However, because the SSA (Social Security Administration) disability system is very complex and takes years to become well-versed in, a claimant in Texas should choose a representative who is very familiar with how the federal disability system works, meaning the basic requirements and qualifications for disability, how claims are approved, how evidence is viewed, as well as the various grid framework rules and federal regulations that guide decisions, and the court rulings that apply to individual cases.

Common questions about filing for disability in Texas
The cost of representation

You may be unsure if you can afford the retainer or fees of a disability representative or lawyer to help you win your disability claim. This is a common concern; however, there is no need to be concerned about cost; attorney and non-attorney representatives must agree to very specific Social Security fee guidelines in order to represent disability claimants.

The fee for representation in Texas is 21% of your back payment of disability benefits up to a maximum amount of $6000.00. In other words, the fee can never exceed $6000 under any circumstances. However, it can also never exceed 1/4 of your back pay.

So, to use an example, if your back pay is $10,000 then the representative's fee would be $2500. For a representative to receive the maximum fee allowed by law, a claimant would have to be eligible to receive at least $24,000 in back pay benefits.

This fee may be collected from your back pay, as well as the back pay of any dependents you have (children, spouse) provided the total amount does not exceed the $6000.00 maximum. Social Security determines the fee amount your representative may charge for their services; this amount is all you owe even if you agreed to a higher fee amount.

In most cases, you will not have to worry about paying the representative. Social Security will withhold the fee from your back payment of benefits prior to sending you your back payment. You must pay any agreed upon incidental expenses out of your back payment.

Other important facts about representation costs

Social Security does not allow representatives in Texas to charge retainers or hourly fees that must be paid prior to their taking your case. To charge you a fee, your attorney or representative must file a fee agreement or fee petition with Social Security. The fee agreement is signed by both you and your representative and it is a legally binding agreement. The fee agreement lists the normal fee expectation along with any expenses you are expected to pay.

Incidental expenses might include: bills from doctors, charges for physician's statements or residual functional capacity forms, charges for medical reports and records, postage and copying costs or any other expense incurred while preparing your disability claim.

It is especially important for you to read your fee agreement carefully. Some representatives charge incidental expenses only if they win your case while others charge expenses whether they win your case or not.

If your attorney uses a fee petition (this may occur if you started, for instance, with one lawyer and then switched to a different disability attorney), they must present it after they complete their work on your disability case. The fee petition describes the amount of time they spent on each service they provided. Your representative must provide you with a copy of the fee petition and each attachment they included to justify their request for payment.

If you do not agree with any of the information provided or the amount of money requested, you have twenty days to contact Social Security to dispute the petition. Social Security will consider everything and tell you and your representative in writing the amount they are authorizing as a fee in your case.

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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