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I can’t afford to pay a lawyer for my Social Security Disability/SSI case, how do I get help?

September 13, 2016 Law

You’re in luck, you don’t have to pay any money upfront!  Many lawyers, like me, give free consultations regarding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  In fact, if you called me at 443-447-7493 right now there is a good chance we could talk about your case FOR FREE.  Then, if I decide that I can help you with your case, and you decide that you want me to be your lawyer, you pay NOTHING up front.

How is that possible, you may ask? The Social Security Administration (SSA) set rules that would allow disabled people to get lawyers at low cost. SSA will generally not allow lawyers to charge up front fees for representing a claimant before the SSA.  Also, SSA will generally not allow lawyers to charge more than 25% of past due benefits, and will generally not allow a fee of over $6,000 for a single claim. What are past due benefits? Past due benefits are funds awarded retroactively for the time period between when you became disabled and when your application for benefits was approved. There is a 5 month waiting period for SSDI payments counted from the date you became disabled, and you may only receive 12 months of SSDI benefits prior to the SSDI application date. You may only receive SSI payments beginning the month after you apply for SSI.

Tip: You only pay if you win! Hiring an attorney to help you is smart and low-risk.

Example: Mary became disabled in January 2013 and applied for SSDI in January 2015. Mary hires a lawyer to help her but does not pay anything up front.  The SSA awards her claim on July 1, 2015 and establishes a disability onset date (the date Mary became disabled) as January 1, 2013.  Mary’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) is $2,000 per month, meaning she is eligible for an SSDI payment of $2,000 per month.  She is awarded $2,000 per month of past due benefits beginning in January 2014, even though she was deemed to be disabled in January 2013, because SSA will only pay 12 months of benefits before Mary’s SSDI application which was filed in January 2015. Mary gets 18 months of past due benefits totaling $36,000. 25% of 36,000 is 9,000, but Mary only has to pay her lawyer $6,000 because of the SSA limit on fees.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Emmett B. Irwin is not your attorney before the SSA until you sign a fee agreement.