How do Disability Lawyers in Texas get paid their fees?

A representative handling a disability claim through the Social Security Administratration (SSD or SSI) may be a disability lawer or a non-attorney disability representative (many non-attorney representatives are former SSA field office claims reps or disability examiners, such as the author of, Tim Moore).

The fee for representing a Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim in Texas is regulated by the Social Security Act which is administered by the Social Security Administration at the federal level. Disability lawyers and non-attorney disability representatives are not paid upfront.

A representative is only paid a fee when a case has been won. Usually, this occurs at the disability hearing level (hearings are decided by federal ALJs, or administrative law judges) since the rate of approval at the disability application level tends to be fairly low and the rate of approval at the next level, the request for reconsideration level, tends to be even dramatically lower than this.

Regardless of the level at which an SSD or SSI claim is won, the fee that is paid to a disability lawyer or disability representative in the state of Texas is equal to one-fourth of the back pay benefits that a claimant is eligible to receive.

So, for example, if a claimant is awarded $18,000 in a back payment, the non-attorney representative or lawyer would be eligible to receive $4500 as payment for the fee.

However, the fee is capped at a certain maximum. Currently, that maximum is set at $6000. This the most that a representative in Texas can be paid on any disability claim. And, obviously, it is only paid if the case is actually won.

Common questions about filing for disability in Texas
An additional benefit is also that the actual payment of the fee will be handled by the Social Security Administration which will calculate the amount of back pay that is owed to the claimant and then deduct the amount owed to the representative and send it to them.

Do you pay a higher fee if the case takes longer? No, the maximum fee amount payable is simply the maximum.

Are there other costs associated with having a case represented? Usually, yes. In the course of handling a claim for disability, a representative will usually incur predictable expenses such as the cost of obtaining medical records and perhaps a statement from a physician who has a history of providing treatment to the claimant. Sometimes, the attorney or representative will ask for reimbursement as the costs are incurred, or they may simply ask for a cumulative reimbursement of costs after the case has been concluded.

Claimants who choose someone to represent their SSD or SSI claim in Texas will sign a fee agreement in addition to the form that authorizes that individual, firm, or company to represent them. This agreement must be approved by the Social Security Administration and that fact pretty much guarantees that the representative will not charge unallowable expenses.

Nevertheless, a claimant should always read their fee agreement before signing to ensure they fully understand what they may be charged.

To recap: the fee for representation of a claim is fixed and non-negotiable, but some representatives may differ in what they charge for incidental expenses.

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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