How Much Does a Social Security Disability Lawyer Cost?

Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys

Closeup of a social security lawyer with a pen and a gavel and paperwork

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is frequently challenging and stressful. On top of that, if a disability is preventing you from working, you are undoubtedly facing financial struggle.

When the debt around you is piling up, it’s natural to wonder whether hiring an attorney for your application or appeal is worth it. Can you really afford an attorney? (Then again, can you afford not to hire one?)

Fortunately, there are rules in place to protect people like you. The law puts strict limits on what a disability attorney can charge for their work based on the amount of past-due benefits you obtain, up to a maximum fee. For most applicants, hiring an attorney to ensure their claim has the best possible chance of approval is well worth the cost.

How Do Social Security Disability Attorneys Get Paid?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has put rules in place to make sure that you can afford to hire a lawyer to advocate for you. If you’re worried about disability lawyer cost, then put your mind at ease.

Here are the rules every disability attorney must adhere to:

  • Contingency Fee. This is a fancy way of saying your lawyer only gets paid if your benefits get approved—their payment is “contingent” on winning the case. If your claim is denied, you owe your attorney nothing.
  • Past-Due Benefits Only. If your lawyer is successful in getting your claim approved, they can only charge you a portion of your Social Security Disability back pay in attorney fees. These are the retroactive benefits that cover the period of time between when you should have started receiving SSDI benefits (that is, five months after your disability began) and when your benefits were actually approved. A Social Security Disability attorney can never take any portion of your future benefits, ever.
  • Fee Agreements: Your lawyer will submit a fee agreement to the Social Security Administration when they take on your case. This means the SSA will pay the attorney fees directly out of your back pay, and the entire remainder is yours to keep. You won’t have to be billed by your attorney or pay out of pocket.
  • Fee Agreement Limit: Under normal circumstances your lawyer’s fee is capped, which means there is a maximum amount they can charge. This is currently limited to 25% of your past due benefits, up to a maximum fee of $7,200—whichever is lower.
  • Fee Petition: In rare circumstances, cases can be especially complex and take multiple hearings during the appeals process. If that happens, the lawyer may submit a fee petition to the SSA for higher fees. They must submit an itemized list of what they would like to charge, and the SSA must review it to see if it is reasonable. This does not happen very often.
  • Out-of-Pocket Costs: Your lawyer may have some expenses related to getting medical records or work records, and pass those on to you. These costs are typically under $200. Your disability lawyer will be able to give you a better idea of what expenses you may have to pay, and how they will work with you to avoid any further hardship.

If you are worried about disability attorney fees, you should know that 68% of surveyed applicants paid less than the fee agreement maximum, which is currently $7,200.

You can always talk to a disability lawyer about fee agreements and other expenses so that you know what to expect. Since they only get paid if they win, the lawyer’s fee is usually worth it because the SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can be life-changing money when your disability claim is approved!

Do I Really Need a Lawyer for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Closeup of paperwork two people are working on. One has an arm injury.

You’re facing loss of income, and at the same time, medical bills are piling up. You may watch your life savings disappear and wonder how you will be able to handle even one more bill. Perhaps you’re already in debt and the stress is making a difficult disability even worse. SSDI benefits are the lifeline you need, but you’ve heard the application process is a nightmare, and few people get approved. A Social Security Disability attorney may help, but is it worth it?

Social Security Disability lawyers can make a big difference. According to a 2017 survey by Martindale-Nolo, claimants who hired an attorney to help with disability claims—either SSDI or SSI benefits—were almost twice as likely to get approved.

Hiring a disability lawyer for the initial application made a smaller difference (28 percent vs 20 percent), but most initial applications are still rejected. The biggest benefit of a Social Security Disability attorney came from the appeals stage: 50% of applicants were approved with the help of a lawyer, but only 23% of applicants without a lawyer were approved.

How does a Social Security Disability attorney help? They have experience in gathering medical evidence, and knowing if more is needed. They’ll even find a medical expert to testify about the severity of your condition.

Your disability lawyer will also help prepare you for the hearing. They will know what questions to expect, and help you prepare answers that will help your case. Many people find it difficult to answer questions like that under pressure, so preparing ahead of time can help you stay calm.

Call Today for a Free Consultation with a Social Security Disability Lawyer

A person meeting with a Social Security lawyer

At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, our team of experienced Social Security Disability lawyers will advocate for you in your time of need.

We understand that money is tight and the legal costs may be a big concern. We take special care to follow the fee agreement guidelines so that you never have to worry about upfront costs. Our attorney’s fee is taken from your retroactive benefits, not your future monthly disability award.

We want to help you get the disability benefits you deserve. If you are just starting the process, or if you’ve received a denial letter and are not sure what to do next, please contact our office for a no-strings-attached, free case evaluation. We’ll listen to you, learn about the specifics of your disability, and tell you how we can help you win your disability claim. Just call (580) 271-9672 or fill out the online form to get started today.


Survey Statistics: Is a Social Security Disability Lawyer Worth It? Martindale-Nolo Research. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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