How much does an SSDI lawyer cost?

SSDI lawyers generally cost between $0 and $6,000, but they only get paid if your application is successful.

evident Editorial Team
July 27, 2021
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Key Takeaways

How much does an SSDI lawyer cost?‍

SSDI lawyers generally cost between $0 and $6,000, but they only get paid if your application is successful. This is because SSDI lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that they get paid a percentage of your backpay award if your application is successful. In other words, their fee is contingent upon the success of your application.

By law, SSDI lawyers are limited in how much they can charge you. Generally, an SSDI lawyer can charge 25% of your SSDI backpay up to a maximum of $6,000, whichever amount is lower. (Backpay means the past benefits owed to you, and does not include future payments after a successful application). The legal fees are often less than this $6,000 maximum.

Here are two examples of what this looks like:

SSDI Legal Fee Example graph with pie charts

It is important to note that there are limited circumstances in which a lawyer could seek more than $6,000 in fees.

For instance, if you are initially denied benefits and your lawyer appeals your case to the SSA Appeals Council or to federal court, your lawyer could submit a fee petition to the SSA. If the SSA approves the fee petition, the lawyer could then ask you for the additional fees. But, again, most SSDI cases come in under the $6,000 maximum.

Another important aspect is that the lawyer fees are paid directly out of your backpay award. In order to get paid, SSDI lawyers must enter into written fee agreements with their clients and submit those agreements to the SSA for approval. The fee agreement must be signed by the lawyer and the client, and must lay out the terms of the lawyer’s contingency fee.

If the SSA approves the fee arrangement, the SSA will pay your lawyer directly out of the backpay award. This means no out of pocket charge to you, and your lawyer is not paid until your application succeeds.

Lawyer’s Fees vs. Legal Costs

Separate from the lawyer’s fees, though, there could be some incidental costs associated with your case.

For instance, your lawyer may need to request certain types of records that support your claim, such as medical records from a hospital or doctor’s office. Some institutions may provide these records for free, but others will not, and your lawyer may have to pay postage and copying expenses in order to get these documents.

So while an SSDI lawyer cannot charge an upfront fee for their legal services, they may ask you to pay a small amount upfront in order to cover these costs. These costs generally total no more than $100-200 over the course of a case, though.

Also, many SSDI lawyers do not ask clients to pay for these expenses in advance, and will instead ask you to reimburse them at the end of the case. Your fee agreement will address who is responsible for paying legal costs.

The final word on SSDI lawyer costs

In sum, there are three important things to know about how much an SSDI lawyer costs. First, there are generally no upfront fees and you only pay if your case is successful.

Second, if your claim is successful, the cost will generally be 25% of your backpay award up to a maximum of $6,000.

And third, SSA will typically pay your lawyer directly from your backpay award. As discussed, you may be responsible for some moderate costs including copying or postage expenses, but your fee agreement will cover who is responsible for paying these legal costs (and when).