Legal fees in SSD cases are regulated by law. Virtually all lawyers who handle SSD cases charge for their work on the same basis. What differentiates lawyers is not how they charge, but rather their knowledge of disability law, their diligence, and their success rates.
Our fees are contingent on success. We get paid only if our client wins. Our fee is 25% of the past-due benefits awarded to our client. The law presently caps the fee at $6,000. If 25% of the past-due benefits works out to less than $6,000, we are paid the lesser amount. If it works out to more than $6,000, the fee is $6,000.
LTD recipients: Be cautious about using your insurance company's suggested representative.
People receiving LTD benefits are often required by their insurance carriers to apply for SSD. That's because most LTD benefits are reduced if SSD benefits are awarded. Many insurance companies have arrangements with national firms staffed by non-attorneys to represent LTD beneficiaries on SSD cases. The companies encourage beneficiaries to use these representatives by offering "free" legal representation.
Individuals should be cautious in these situations. First and foremost, practically all LTD insurance carriers 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 do not have the same degree of legal expertise that we do; they don't have the same level of success with their claims; and they don't provide claimants with the same degree of personal attention and courtesy. Finally, these firms have an inherent conflict of interest. They work for an insurance company, not the claimant. They routinely disclose information from the SSD claim file to the company, including information that can jeapardize a claimant's ongoing LTD.
If you are receiving LTD and applying for SSD, do yourself a favor and use independent counsel.