For many seeking the guidance of an Atlanta Social Security lawyer, cost is likely a top concern.
As portrayed in popular cinema, retaining an effective lawyer means paying an exorbitant hourly rate—a privilege afforded only the wealthiest individuals as they cruise around in Ferraris wearing designer suits.
The reality is much more optimistic. There are many disability attorneys in Atlanta dedicated to helping people regardless of their ability to pay up front and out of pocket.
When it comes to hiring a Social Security lawyer, the following are typically true:
- An initial consultation to discuss your case will be free.
- If you retain a lawyer’s services, they get paid only if you win your case. The fee is capped at a certain percentage.
- If you don’t win your benefits, in most cases there is no fee.
It’s crucial to understand all the options when it comes to paying a lawyer’s fee. Having access to the right Atlanta Social Security lawyers can maximize your chances to win your benefits.
The Free Consultation
Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation. This is important because when seeking legal council, you should interview different lawyers and find someone with experience who matches the needs of your disability case.
Ask questions during the initial consultation. Get to know how successful each attorney is at winning disability cases, how long they’ve been practicing in the area of your disability, what kind of support and communication they offer their clients, and their initial thoughts about your case.
Sign up for a free consultation with Atlanta Social Security Lawyers at Affleck & Gordon today.
When Do Atlanta Social Security Lawyers Get Paid?
Your lawyer typically collects a fee only when you receive benefits as a result of winning your case. You won’t normally be asked to pay a fee up front.
This is called a “contingency fee agreement.” When you sign this agreement, you’re allowing the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pay your attorney’s fee if your benefits are approved.
You sign this agreement regardless of whether you’re applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Before you pay any legal fees, the SSA will review the agreement to ensure it meets their standards and regulations.
Payment works like this.
If you win your benefits, lawyers take their fee from your first disability check—or award of “back pay.” As opposed to personal injury and other types of lawyers, you don’t have to pay Social Security attorneys from future benefits.
If you don’t win your benefits, your lawyer doesn’t receive a fee. It’s that simple.
You may pay a small amount initially to cover requests for medical records or other case-related costs, but this will be limited and clearly laid out contractually when you first retain the services of an attorney.
How Much Do Atlanta Social Security Lawyers Get Paid?
As mentioned above, your lawyer will receive their fee from your initial disability check once you are approved, which is called “back pay.”
Lawyers get 25 percent of your back pay, but no more than $6,000 in most cases.
There are rare exceptions, such as:
- Your lawyer charges an additional fee for an appeals hearing at the Appeals Council or federal court level.
- You hire a new disability attorney after firing a previous attorney, and both worked on your Social Security case.
- Your attorney files a fee petition because they’ve done an amount of work on your case beyond what is reasonable or standard for most cases, and the petition is approved by the SSA.
None of these scenarios is typical. It’s unlikely you’ll have to deal with any of these. Still, a fee agreement may include a provision for an attorney to file a fee petition if necessary, so it’s good to understand these rare exceptions and ask questions if you need clarification.
Who Pays Your Social Security Lawyer?
If you sign a contingency fee agreement and it’s approved by the SSA, in most cases it’s up to the agency to pay your attorney.
That means you don’t have to arrange payment for the fee yourself. Once your benefits are awarded, usually, you’re done.
This should come as a relief, since at this point in the process you’ve likely gone through a lot of paperwork, medical examinations, appeals hearings, phone calls, and other challenges to win your case.
Once Your Social Security Lawyer Gets Their Fee—When Do You Get Paid?
Once your attorney’s fee is separated from your back pay, you will receive the remainder depending on when your benefits start.
For SSDI benefits, there is a five-month waiting period for payment. There are a few exceptions, such as benefits for dependents.
This “waiting period” is determined based on when the SSA determines your disability first began. Since cases often take a lengthy period to conclude, they may end up simply subtracting five months of benefits from your back pay.
Your back pay will include retroactive benefits from when your disability began, up to 12 months prior to filing a claim.
For SSI benefits, there is no waiting period. You’re eligible the first month after you apply, though it’s likely you’ll receive several SSI checks in back pay since granting benefits can take the SSA months to complete.
The amount of SSI back pay equals the date you’re approved back to the month after your initial application.
When Should You Hire an Atlanta Social Security Lawyer?
You can hire a lawyer to help with your disability case at any time. However, the cost does not change based on when a lawyer is retained. In other words, your contingency fee agreement remains the same regardless of how much work you do yourself.
While you could seek out legal assistance later in your case, hiring a lawyer when you initially apply for benefits means you’re better prepared. It also means you have an advocate at each stage of the process who can get started on your case right away.
If you are filing for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation, or call us (404) 795-4978.