How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost? When filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you might consider working with an attorney to increase your chances of success. But how much does a disability lawyer cost? Social Security lawyers work on contingency, which means that they collect a fee only if they win your disability claim.

How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost?
How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost?

Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, a lawyer will work on your case without making you pay until the end of the case.

How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost?

Even if your case goes on for years, a lawyer will not get paid until it is over and won. A disability lawyer costs nothing upfront. You only pay if your lawyer wins your case, and the SSA approves your claim. You start with a free consultation. Then, if you decide to move forward, you sign a contingency fee agreement. Next, your lawyer submits documentation to the SSA for approval.

If the SSA signs off on the agreement and your claim is approved, your lawyer collects the contingency fee. The industry standard is 25% off your first check. By law, the maximum a disability lawyer can receive is $7,200.

What they’ll receive depends on the size of that first benefit payment, which is determined by your “back pay.” We’ll dive into back pay more below, but generally speaking: The longer your case goes on, the more the government “owes” you for all the time you should have been, but hadn’t been, receiving benefits.

You’ll get paid all those “due benefits” once you’re finally approved—and your lawyer will get 25% of that, up to $7,200. The exception is if your case goes beyond the administrative law judge (ALJ) and into federal appeals, then the lawyer’s fee is 25% with no cap. Most disability claims don’t go past the ALJ because few people appeal after that stage.

This contingency fee doesn’t vary among social security disability lawyers because the law limits the amount. Plus, your lawyer doesn’t get any compensation from your future checks.

Special Rules for Helping You Pay for A Disability Attorney

The government makes it hard to apply for and win disability benefits, but at least they make it easy to get help from a lawyer. These billing rules apply to all Social Security disability lawyers:

No Up-Front Fees

You will never pay for a disability lawyer upfront. If you speak with a lawyer who says they need a retainer fee to work on your disability claim, you need to look for another lawyer because he or she is breaking the law.

No Fees Until You Win

Your disability lawyer must work on your claim for free until you win benefits. Some lawyers will not help you until you’ve already applied and been denied. They don’t want to spend time filling out all the forms for initial applications and chasing down your medical and work records.

No Deductions from Your Checks

Even when you pay a lawyer’s fee after you win benefits, there are limits on how your lawyer can collect their fee. Social Security requires lawyer fees to come out of your back benefits, which are the benefits you should have been receiving all along while you were waiting on your claim. That means you won’t pay anything out of your monthly checks going forward.

Limits On Attorney Fees

Social Security also caps the amount your attorney can receive from your back benefits at 25%. And that only applies until 25% of your back benefits amount to $7,200. Your attorney cannot charge more than the absolute limit of $7,200 out of your back benefits. Remember, you’ll only pay your attorney out of the lump sum amount that Social Security initially gives you for back pay once you’re finally awarded benefits.

Tips for Choosing the Right Social Security Disability Attorney

You want to choose a disability lawyer that properly represents you and your disability. Look for the following when choosing the right lawyer.


You want a lawyer or representative with experience, especially in filing and appealing disability claims in your state. A disability lawyer’s experience significantly varies, even from that of a personal injury lawyer.

Success Rate

A high success rate shows that the potential representative understands the process of filing and appealing for disability benefits.

Communication Style

Try to choose a disability lawyer with a similar communication style as you. For example, some prefer communicating via email, whereas others prefer phone communication.

Length In Business

Choosing a disability lawyer who has been in practice for many years can help you more conveniently navigate the application process.

What Does a Social Security Disability Lawyer Do?

A Social Security disability attorney specializes in helping clients navigate through the claim submission process. One of the most important roles of an SSD lawyer is to ensure clients submit the proper paperwork before the deadline established for filing a claim for disability benefits.

Submitting Persuasive Medical Evidence

The most important factor for getting a disability claim approved by the SSA is to submit overwhelming evidence that you live with a disability that makes it difficult to work your current job. Submitting the results of diagnostic tests is the key element to filing a disability claim that gets approved by the SSA.

Provides Legal Support During the Appeal Process.

Since a majority of disability claims are denied by the SSA, you should hire a disability lawyer who may understand the complex appeal process to receive approval for financial assistance. The disability attorney that you hire may submit a more persuasive claim as part of the process called an appeal for reconsideration.

If your appeal for reconsideration is denied by the SSA, your Social Security disability attorney can prepare to present your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Disability lawyers likely understand how to build a strong enough case to persuade an ALJ to issue a ruling that eventually gets you approved for financial assistance.

Process Your Application

One of the significant benefits of using Social Security Disability Lawyers is that they will help you file your initial application. Why? Because they understand that most applications are denied due to incorrect information provided by applicants. A lawyer will take the time to go through your application to ensure that it meets all the requirements of the SSA.

Communicate On Your Behalf

Another advantage is that the attorney will communicate with the SSA office to ensure that your claim goes through. For example, say you are applying for Social Security in Oklahoma City. If there is any additional information you must submit, an SS attorney will find out and submit it to the office on your behalf.

If the Oklahoma Social Security Office rejects your application, you can appeal that decision. That’s where a Social Security Attorney comes in handy. A Disability Lawyer for Social Security will follow all the necessary steps in the appeal process and submit your appeal successfully.

Represent You

A Social Security Disability Lawyer will be by your side if you need someone to represent you at a disability hearing. A lawyer will prepare for the hearing and ensure that you make a good impression on the judge. Moreover, the social security disability lawyer will ask all the questions of your witnesses and address any expert witnesses. Remember, a Social Security Disability Attorney won’t get paid unless you win the case.

Why Do I Need a Social Security Disability Attorney?

Before applying for Social Security Disability benefits, it’s highly advisable that you speak with an experienced disability lawyer about your application. You are more likely to obtain the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits you need if you have a knowledgeable attorney to advocate for you.

A disability lawyer will have the skill to:

. Explain the disability process to you in an easy-to-understand way.

. Assess the strength of your claim.

. Review your SSDI or SSI benefits application for any errors, or have someone fill out your application for you.

. Collect your medical records and other documentation to back up your claim.

. Participate in conversations with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

. Help you file an appeal if your initial claim is denied.

. Bring medical specialists to provide testimony to support your case.

. Explain your rights and guide you through the legal process.


You don’t have to pay upfront for a lawyer to fight for your disability benefits. They work on a contingency fee basis and receive payment after the SSA approves your claim.

If a disability lawyer tries to get you to pay anything in advance other than document expenses, they may not have your best interests in mind.


What Is Back Pay?

Back pay accumulates while the SSA reviews your claim. The SSA determines your monthly benefits, then compensates you for the months between the onset of your disability and your approval.

Will It Cost Me More to Have a Board-Certified Social Security Disability Attorney Represent Me?

No. It will not cost you any more to hire a Board-Certified Social Security Disability Attorney to represent you than to hire any other attorney. That means you get the knowledge and experience of a Board-Certified Social Security Disability Attorney without paying any more than you would to anyone else. You just pay the same 25% on a contingency fee basis.


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