Question from Bones, Do Lawyers Get Paid if You Win SSI but Not SSDI?
Answer from AI:
When you hire a lawyer to assist with your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) case, it’s important to understand how attorney fees work, especially in scenarios where the outcome is not entirely as expected. If your case results in being awarded Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead of SSDI, the payment of attorney fees may still occur, but it depends on the terms of your agreement with the lawyer and the regulations governing such payments.
Understanding SSDI and SSI
Firstly, let’s clarify the difference between SSDI and SSI:
- SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is a program that provides benefits to disabled individuals who have paid into the Social Security system through their work history.
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a program that provides benefits to low-income individuals who are disabled, blind, or aged 65 or older, regardless of their work history.
Attorney Fees in Social Security Cases
In Social Security cases, attorney fees are typically contingent on the attorney successfully securing disability benefits for their client. The fee is usually capped at 25% of the back pay awarded or a specific maximum limit set by the Social Security Administration (SSA), whichever is lower. As of my knowledge cutoff in 2023, this limit is set at $6,000 but may be subject to change.
If you are awarded SSI benefits but not SSDI, here are some scenarios regarding attorney payment:
- If the attorney’s representation agreement with you includes pursuing any and all Social Security benefits on your behalf, then they may be entitled to a fee from the SSI back pay awarded.
- If the agreement was specifically for SSDI representation, and SSI was not mentioned, the attorney might not be entitled to a fee. However, this is rare, as most agreements cover both programs.
- The fee agreement must be approved by the SSA, which ensures that the fees are reasonable and comply with Social Security law.
Consulting Your Attorney Agreement
It is crucial to review the fee agreement you signed with your attorney. This document should outline the circumstances under which the attorney will be paid, including whether the payment is due if SSI benefits are awarded instead of SSDI.
Seeking Legal Advice
If there is any confusion or dispute regarding the payment of attorney fees, it may be necessary to seek legal advice. A legal professional can provide personalized guidance based on the specifics of your case and the terms of your agreement.
For more information on Social Security programs and attorney fees, you can refer to the following resources:
- The Social Security Administration’s official website provides detailed information on both SSDI and SSI programs.
- Information on representation and fees for Social Security cases is also available on the SSA’s website.
Remember, each case is unique, and the outcome can depend on various factors. If you have concerns about attorney fees or the outcome of your case, consulting with a legal professional is recommended to ensure your rights and interests are adequately protected.