When it comes to pursuing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, one pressing question often surfaces: “What are the costs associated with hiring a Social Security attorney, and is it a worthwhile investment?” In this blog, we delve into the financial aspects of engaging an attorney and the profound advantages of having an experienced legal advocate by your side throughout this intricate process.
Attorney Fees: The Laws
It is essential to grasp that attorney fees in Social Security cases are heavily regulated by the government, ensuring transparency and equity. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has instituted a ceiling, capping attorney fees at 25% of your past-due benefits or a maximum of $7,200, whichever proves to be the lesser amount.
For instance, if your attorney secures a $5,000 past-due benefit, their fee is 25%, or $1,250. Fees are only due upon winning, a “contingent” fee setup. In most SSDI and SSI cases, the SSA handles fee payment directly from your past-due benefits upon success, simplifying the process. If they mistakenly pay you instead, you’re responsible for remitting the fee, as noted in your Notice of Award.
To protect you if your case advances to the Appeals Council or Federal Court, the attorney can file a fee petition which, if granted, would require the SSA to cover the additional costs associated with your appeal. The United States Supreme Court has also determined that the cap on the fees applies separately to each level of courts, ensuring that the attorney can represent you in full at each level of the court proceedings.
The SSA plays a pivotal role in the approval of attorney fees, meticulously scrutinizing their reasonableness. Several factors come into play during this assessment, encompassing the extent of services provided, case complexity, attorney expertise, time expended, case outcome, and the fairness of the fee requested. This oversight mechanism is designed to safeguard you against potential exploitation by attorneys.
Understanding Additional Costs
Apart from attorney fees, it is imperative to consider the ancillary expenses associated with your case. These typically encompass costs such as procuring medical records, copy fees, postage charges, travel expenses, and filing fees. Your attorney may also incur expenses in obtaining crucial evidence, such as medical reports or examination fees.
Significantly, your attorney is prohibited from billing you for certain types of costs, including paralegal and secretarial services or any share of overhead and utility costs. These are recognized as standard business expenses borne by the attorney. Given the SSA’s scrutiny of all attorney-client contracts, it is highly unlikely that your attorney will overcharge you for these costs, however, if you feel that an attorney has violated the strict rules, you should contact the SSA.
The Value of Engaging an Attorney
The question arises: Is it worthwhile to invest in attorney fees while pursuing Social Security benefits? The answer is unequivocally yes. Navigating the intricate Social Security benefits process, which spans years, can be daunting. A seasoned attorney enhances success odds and ensures adherence to SSA protocols.
Experienced Social Security attorneys offer invaluable insights and play a pivotal role in preparing you as a compelling witness during hearings, significantly bolstering your chance of securing benefits. Statistics reveal that involving a seasoned attorney increases the chances of obtaining SSDI and SSI benefits by a substantial 30%.
The team at the ADA Group are known as the most aggressive social security disability firm in Arkansas due to our experience and approach. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 501-254-6955 or online here.