What will it cost to hire a lawyer to help file for disability benefits?
Filing for Social Security Disability Income or long-term disability benefits can be a complex and lengthy process. Though some claimants manage their cases on their own, hiring an attorney can make the difference between winning and losing your case – and ultimately worth the cost.
If you are suffering from the effects of a disabling ailment you may qualify for disability benefits.
Most applicants for disability income are under severe financial stress; they have lost needed income and are struggling to pay medical expenses.
Because of this, the Social Security Administration has established guidelines for legal assistance that makes hiring an attorney feasible. Social Security Disability lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning the attorney collects a fee only if you win your case and are awarded disability benefits. If you are not approved for disability benefits, the attorney charges nothing. The attorney works on your case until Social Security issues a decision and you pay nothing until the end of the case. Social Security disability attorneys do not charge up-front fees or require a retainer; instead, federal law allows attorneys to charge only 25% of past-due or back pay benefits you are awarded, up to a maximum of $6,000, whichever is less. Back pay is retroactive benefits a claimant is owed and is calculated from the date disability benefits are granted to the date that Social Security determines the disability began (which can be a maximum of 12 months back from the date of the claimant’s application).
Social Security disability attorneys will enter into a fee agreement with their clients and submit this fee agreement to Social Security for approval at the beginning of the case.
Social Security must review the agreement to ensure it meets legal requirements and the attorney is not taking advantage of the client by receiving more than is legally allowed. There are two main requirements. The fee cannot be more than 25% of the claimant’s back pay or $6,000. For example, if the claimant’s back pay is $10,000, the attorney will receive $2,500 and the claimant $7,500. Also, the fee agreement must be signed by the applicant (or the applicant’s guardian) and the attorney. If Social Security approves the fee agreement, Social Security will pay the attorney out of the claimant’s back pay when disability benefits are granted.
The amount an attorney receives depends on how much a claimant is granted for back pay.
If a claimant goes through a hearing, it will extend the time between the claimant’s disability onset date and the date benefits are granted. The reason for this is that it can take a long time to get a hearing date and can take a month or two after the hearing for an administrative law judge to reach a decision. There may be a backlog of cases in a particular region, a delay in obtaining medical records, or the case may involve special circumstances.
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Social Security pays attorneys their fee directly, but there are still some out-of-pocket expenses such a copying charges, postage, and charges for hospital and doctors records that are the client’s responsibility.
Most of these miscellaneous charges amount to less than $200 and the attorney will not request reimbursement until the case is over. If an attorney does request payment for costs up front, they must hold the funds in trust and report to the client each time an expense is withdrawn.
Similar to Social Security Disability attorneys, long-term disability attorneys charge little or nothing up front and accept cases on a contingency basis, charging a percentage of the client’s settlement amount or monthly payments.
Again, if you do not win your case, the attorney receives nothing. The majority of long-term insurance policies are purchased through an employer which means the insurance plans are subject to the rules and regulations of The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 or ERISA. ERISA requires claimants and respondents to meet specific deadlines for filing claims and appeals, but the law allows an insurance company or a plan administrator to have the final say as to whether a claim should be denied or approved. An insurance company will rely on the law to its best advantage and use many strategies to deny your claim.
So, do you need an attorney? Is it worth the cost?
Sometimes a fee may be negotiable, but hiring an inexpensive – or inexperienced – attorney may not yield good results. Research has shown that hiring a qualified experienced attorney doubled a claimant’s chance of being approved for benefits. In one survey, 60% of claimants who had legal representation were approved for benefits compared with 34% of claimants who did not have lawyers and were not approved.
Disability attorneys have experience in the entire Social Security filing process and can present your case in the most favorable light so that your claim will be approved.
An attorney can complete the initial paperwork for you, which requires gathering detailed information about your medical condition, education, work history, limitations and capabilities. They can also negotiate your disability onset date with Social Security, increasing the amount of your past-due benefits. If your disability claim is not approved on initial application, you will have to go through the appeals process. While legal representation is not required, appearing at a court hearing before an administrative law judge without an attorney can greatly hurt your chance of success and if you lose, you may have to reapply all over again.
To defend your claim against an LTD insurance company, you need an attorney experienced in long-term disability claims, especially those subject to ERISA.
Disability cases involve volumes of medical records and require someone with the skill to interpret and present that information. Each insurance company has their own definition of disability as well as their own requirements a claimant must meet to achieve a favorable settlement. If a case proceeds to trial, a claimant needs the skills of an experienced appellate attorney. Lonnie Roach of Bemis, Roach and Reed is all these and more. Mr. Roach is board certified in personal injury law and recognized as an authority in ERISA cases. Admitted to the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Texas, the Southern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Texas, and the Western District of Texas, as well as the United States Court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Mr. Roach has successfully overturned denials of disability benefits at trial in U.S. District Court and at the United States Court of Appeals. His numerous published opinions have helped shape the interpretation of disability law and earned him a place as one of the top attorneys in ERISA law in the state of Texas. In June 2021, he had another opinion published in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Talamantes v. Metro. Life Ins. Co._ 2021 U.S. App), reversing a judgement against his client.
If you are considering hiring a disability attorney but hesitating because of financial reasons, remember that you do not pay your attorney unless they win your case.
Having the guidance and support of a qualified disability attorney will ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Bemis, Roach & Reed focuses strictly on representing clients in disability benefits claims, including long-term disability insurance and Social Security Disability Income. Our caring and professional staff will treat you with respect and sensitivity and ensure your best chance for winning your claim.
How do I avoid making mistakes on my Social Security disability application?
Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits can be difficult to obtain. Only about 35% of initial applications result in a benefits award, and the appeals process is time sensitive and requires an intensively documented medical history. You might consider getting help when you first apply for SSDI to ensure your best possible chance for success.
Getting an award on your initial application can save years of paper work and anxiety during the appeals process.
Attorney Greg Reed, of Bemis, Roach & Reed, has a great deal of experience and assists clients both with SSDI appeals and initial applications. Having an attorney who is thoroughly familiar with the SSDI process increases the likelihood that your initial application will be approved.
In October, Mr. Reed took on a Cedar Park client who had suffered a perforated ulcer in April of the previous year.
Before his disability, the client was a small business owner. Unfortunately, he lost his colon and part of his small intestines and now required a colostomy bag. In addition he suffered from high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. He had a difficult recovery and suffered complications that required further surgery a year later. His surgeon instructed that our client avoid lifting anything over 10 lbs. due to risk of additional injury to his abdomen. This restriction made it impossible for our client to continue running his business or, in fact, from continuing in his profession at all. We assisted him in his SSDI application and, after several medical exams at the request of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to verify our client’s condition, he was awarded benefits in May, with past-due benefits awarded from November of of two years prior.
If you wish to apply for SSDI or have already applied and have been denied don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Another client, from Lockhart, came to us knowing how hard it is to achieve a favorable judgement when you first apply for social security disability.
The 60-year-old truck driver had been in an auto accident several years previously which had resulted in a back injury that led to degenerative disc disease. He continued working and subsequently broke his right ankle twice. Over time, these injuries led to debilitating back pain and leg problems. He was no longer able to perform his job duties. We represented him in his initial SSDI filing, and he was awarded benefits in July, only three months after we submitted his application.
The team of disability lawyers at Bemis, Roach & Reed knows how crucial disability benefits can be for maintaining financial stability. Our attorneys are assisting clients with their disability cases in cities all across Texas. If you are seeking disability benefits because of a sleep apnea diagnosis, contact our attorneys today at no cost to you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court – all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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