When you’re suffering from a physical or mental disability that prevents you from working, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can help pay for your rent or mortgage and keep food on the table. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to increase your chance of being approved for benefits in a timely fashion, but you may have concerns about how to afford representation if you’re not currently working.
Don’t assume quality legal representation is financially out of reach. No matter your current circumstances, you can afford assistance from the legal team at Alperin Law.
Contingency Fee Arrangements
Lawyers who handle SSD claims work on a contingency fee basis, which means they accept a percentage of the final settlement as part of their fee for service. Contingency fees are an alternative to the retainer and hourly fees typically associated with a criminal case. Lawyers who handle personal injury claims, such as those related to car accidents or slip and falls, also work on a contingency fee basis.
One important benefit of the contingency fee arrangement is that it provides a strong incentive for your lawyer to make your case a priority and to prepare evidence to support the earliest possible disability onset date. With the contingency fee arrangement, your lawyer only gets paid if you do.
Regulations That Limit Legal Fees
Unlike other forms of legal action, there are strict regulations regarding the legal fees associated with SSD claims. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has capped legal fees at 25% or no more than $6,000 of any back pay due to applicants when they are approved for disability.
If a lawyer wishes to request higher fees, the SSA must approve the arrangement. However, there is rarely sufficient legal justification for a deviation from the standard fee agreement. Most often, cases that exceed the $6,000 cap involve appeals to the Appeals Council or a federal court.
How Fees Are Paid
You will not receive a bill for your legal fees after you are approved for SSD benefits. Instead, your lawyer will submit the payment request directly to the SSA. After the billing has been approved, the fee for representation will be deducted from your back pay.
If you are not awarded past-due SSD benefits, your lawyer will not receive any compensation. Because of this, a lawyer will not accept your case unless he believes you have a strong claim for benefits.
Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs
Although a contingency fee arrangement covers the cost of legal representation, it doesn’t necessarily cover expenses such as postage or the fees a healthcare facility charges to obtain your medical records. In some cases, you may be responsible for these costs.
Before you hire an attorney for your Social Security disability claim, it’s best to ask how out-of-pocket costs will be handled. Get any agreement you reach in writing.
If you are asked to pay for out-of-pocket costs upfront, your payment should be held in a trust account. Unused funds should be returned to you after your claim for benefits has been approved or your case is closed.
The Difference Between Hiring a Lawyer and an Advocate
The SSA allows applicants for disability benefits to be represented by both advocates and lawyers. Both groups of individuals provide assistance with applications and appeals. However, an advocate is a layperson with no legal training. This means, he may not fully understand the complexities of the SSD application process and be prone to making mistakes that get your benefits delayed or denied.
Since advocates and lawyers both charge the same SSA-set fees, there is no reason not to seek the assistance of a lawyer with experience handling disability benefit claims. Alperin Law’s legal team is passionate about advocating for the rights of Virginia residents with disabilities.
Have You Or A Loved One Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you or a loved on has been denied Social Security Disability Benefits you need to speak with an experienced SSD attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Suffolk.