How can I afford to hire a Social Security Disability Attorney if I do not have any money?
Applicants for Social Security disability (or SSI disability) are very unlikely to find an attorney to represent them for free. But the good news is that you will not have to pay an attorney up front to represent you in your claim for social security disability benefits. This is because attorneys who help disability claimants work on a contingency basis. This means that they only get paid if they win your case. If they do not get you approved for disability benefits, the attorney takes nothing.
How Do Disability Lawyer Fees Work?
Disability attorneys do not require their fees to be paid up front. So you will never be asked by our office to pay us to represent you up front. Instead, attorneys collect a maximum of 25% of your back pay benefits or $6,000, whichever is less. So lets say your back award amount is $10,000, the attorney will receive 25% which is $2500. But on the flip side, lets say your back award is $50,000, 25% of that is $12,500, however the attorney is capped at $6000, so that means that the most the attorney can make. Social Security pays your attorney directly out of your backpay award. In the event that your disability claim is approved so quickly that there is no back pay owed, well then your lawyer would not be entitled to collect a fee. Its uncommon for someone to not receive a back award but it does happen in cases where the claim is approved very quickly after the case is filed. However, since the majority of applications take a few months to longer to process, there are always back payments owed to disability applicants.
Can Attorneys Charge for Other Costs?
Attorneys will spend money in order to work up your case, this includes things such as copying and postage for gathering all of your medical records and submitting them to Social Security. Many attorneys will require you to pay these costs to them directly as the case goes forward. However, some offices, may not charge you additional expenses at all. It all just depends on the law firm. If the attorney wins your case, they may require that you reimburse them for any out of pocket expenses that they paid in order to work up and win your case. If they do not win your case, then the attorney will likely be out of pocket those expenses. Its best you talk to the attorney to see if they charge or not for those additional expenses.
What About Legal Aid Organizations?
There are non-profit law firms and legal aid organizations that help claimants with Social Security disability cases. However, even legal aid attorneys and non-attorney advocates who are registered with Social Security are permitted to collect fees from disability backpay to compensate them for the work they performed on your case. Legal aid organizations often use the fees they earn from winning your disability claim to fund other services they provide.