Legal Fees in SSD cases are regulated by law. Virtually all Social Security lawyers charge for their work on the same basis. What differentiates them is not how they charge, but rather their knowledge of disability law, their diligence, and their success rates.
SSD legal fees are contingent on success. A lawyer gets paid only if benefits are awarded. The standard fee is 25% of past-due benefits. The law presently caps the fee at $6,000. If 25% of past-due benefits works out to less than $6,000, the fee is the lesser amount. If it is more than $6,000, the fee is $6,000.
A word of caution to disability insurance recipients:
People receiving disability insurance are often required to apply for SSD. That’s because many disability insurance policies permit the carrier to offset (reduce) the benefit they pay once SSD is awarded.
Disability insurance carriers maintain close relationships with national firms that provide representation on SSD claims. The carriers recommend that insureds use these firms and encourage them to do so by offering “free” legal representation.
Don’t be fooled. First and foremost, all carriers routinely absorb the cost of independent legal representation on SSD claims, so there is no cost to the claimant one way or the other. Second, these firms generally don’t have the same degree of legal expertise we do; they rely heavily on paralegals and other non-lawyers; and they don’t have the same level of success with their claims.
It is also important to understand that these firms have an inherent conflict of interest. They work for the carrier, not the claimant. They routinely disclose confidential information from the SSD claim file to the carrier, including information that can jeopardize a claimant’s ongoing disability insurance. If you receive disability insurance and contemplate retaining a lawyer to file an SSD claim, do yourself a favor and use independent counsel.