Non-attorney advocate cost to hire?One of the biggest concerns about hiring a disability lawyer or non-attorney advocate is how much it will cost. The good news is, like many other lawyers, disability lawyers and non-attorney advocates are paid on a contingency fee basis and only paid if you win your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim.
Costs for SSDI legal help from a non-attorney advocate and disability lawyer
If you win your SSDI claim you will be required to pay 25% of your past due SSDI benefits up to a maximum of $6,000. Keep in mind; you will only pay from your back pay benefits. This means that if you are not awarded back pay you generally will not be required to make a payment to your non-attorney advocate, unless they submit a fee petition and the petition is approved by the court. If the non-attorney advocate is due payment the SSA will deduct their payment from your back pay check prior to the distribution.
Is my non-attorney advocate paid if I do not have any back pay?
No, if you do not have back pay the lawyer is generally not paid. While this is possible, it is very unlikely. Given the length of time it takes to process disability claims most disability recipients do receive some back pay.
To calculate the back pay the SSA will determine the retroactive benefits you are owed from the date your application was approved back to the date the SSA determined your disability began (onset date). Back pay for SSDI cannot be more than 12 months prior to the date of your SSDI application.
For instance, if you won $15,000, your attorney would be paid $3,750, and you would receive $11,250. As mentioned above, the lawyers payments are made to them before the SSA sends you the SSDI back pay check.
Out-of-Pocket Costs for non-attorney advocate
Whether you decide to hire a disability lawyer or non-attorney advocate there is a chance that they may request payment for additional expenses they incurred while working on your case. Common expenses can include medical or psychological examinations, copying, and postage.
Many lawyers will pay for these fees and will not charge their clients, but even if they do charge you, it is unusual for these fees to exceed a few hundred dollars (all fees should be negotiated prior to signing any contract to retain the advocate or lawyer).
Why do I need legal help from anyone?
Many disability claimants will not need legal help to win SSDI benefits. For instance, if you have a condition which is listed on the Compassionate Allowance List or the SSA listing impairments (and have the corresponding symptoms) you will not need help. You should be approved for benefits immediately, assuming you meet the non-medical requirements for SSDI benefits.
If, however, you do not have a condition on either of these lists, you will need to prove you do not have the mental or physical capacity to work. This must be done through your medical records. So if you have not seen a doctor recently or you do not have strong medical evidence about the severity of your condition, you will need to take action before applying for your claim and before talking to a non-attorney representative.