How Does Disability Lawyer Get Paid? A Simple Guide for Clients

If  you are considering filing a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim, hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer and understanding how disability lawyers get paid would be essential.

However, many claimants are hesitant to seek legal help because they are afraid it will be too expensive.

Understanding how Social Security Disability lawyers get paid and familiarizing yourself with their fee structure empowers you to make an informed decision about seeking legal assistance for your SSD claim.

You might be surprised to learn that it doesn’t cost as much as you think and that you don’t have to pay forservices upfront.

An attorney could help you get your SSD claim approved, so it’s worth considering hiring one if you’re planning on completing an application for SSD.

A picture showing coins and a gavel illustrating how disability lawyers get paid.source:(Tabak Law)
How disability lawyers get paid.
source:(Tabak Law)

How disability lawyer gets paid

Upfront payment

Most people who file for Social Security Disability (SSD) don’t have thousands of dollars available to pay an attorney for help. That’s why most Social Security Disability lawyers don’t charge upfront fees or retainers to work on an SSD case. Instead, payment is done if they win your claim.

This is known as a contingency fee.

Unlike other types of attorneys, such as those who handle family or estate law, SSD attorneys usually only get paid if you win your SSD case. When you hire an SSD lawyer to represent your claim, you’ll be required to sign an agreement regarding how they’ll get paid.

This agreement allows the Social Security Administration (SSA) to directly pay your attorney if your claim is approved. The SSA reviews the contract before sending money to ensure that it meets the fee agreement guidelines and that your attorney only receives what they’re entitled to receive.

The SSA requires these agreements to be contingency-based.

What is the Compensation Structure for Disability Lawyers?

Below is table illustration of the most a disability lawyer can charge after a case;

Type of Benefit Percentage of Fee Maximum Fee
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 25% of back pay $7,200
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 25% of back pay $7,200
Long-Term Disability Insurance (LTD) Varies by contract No cap
Veterans Disability Compensation (VDC) 20% of back pay No cap

Additional Expenses

Keep in mind that the majority of attorneys will request a small fee to cover their out-of-pocket expenses when you initiate your case.

These costs are distinct from attorney fees and are meant to cover miscellaneous expenses like acquiring medical and work records.

Typically, these expenses amount to less than $400. It’s important to note that this does not cover any obligatory medical examinations, as you would be responsible for paying for those directly.

Factors Influencing the Expense of Engaging a Disability Lawyer

The cost of hiring a disability lawyer is influenced by various factors, including:

  • The specific type of disability benefit you are seeking.
  • The stage of your claim, whether it’s at the initial application, reconsideration, hearing, or appeal level.
  • The complexity of your medical condition and the evidence supporting your claim.
  • The probability of winning your case.
  • The amount of back pay you are eligible to receive.
  • The experience and reputation of the disability lawyer you choose.
  • The location and availability of the disability lawyer in question.

You can also see the benefits of hiring a disability lawyer.


In conclusion, understanding how disability lawyers get paid is crucial for individuals navigating the complex process of filing for disability benefits.

These legal professionals typically work on a contingency fee basis, receiving a percentage of the back pay awarded to their clients if the case is successful.

This payment arrangement ensures that individuals with disabilities can access competent legal representation without worrying about upfront costs. Moreover, the contingency fee system aligns the lawyer’s interests with those of the client, motivating them to diligently pursue the strongest possible case.

Additionally, other factors may impact the attorney’s fees, such as the amount of back pay, the complexity of the case, and the experience and reputation of the lawyer.

Ultimately, seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable and compassionate disability lawyer can significantly increase the chances of a successful outcome in the pursuit of much-needed disability benefits.

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