William J. La Croix
Attorney at Law
The Contingent Fee
The Contingent Fee arrangement that almost all Social Security Disability attorneys offer makes it possible for claimants with limited resources to obtain representation by an attorney.
This is not a simple act of generosity by attorneys. Under the law, a contingent fee equal to 25% of
past due (retroactive) benefits but not more than $6,000.00 is the only fee arrangement
Social Security will approve and withhold to pay the attorney unless the attorney decides
to file a fee petition, that is, a list of billable hours, for approval by SSA of an amount that,
in some cases, could be higher than the $6,000 limit in a contingent fee arrangement.
From the claimant’s perspective, he or she will not have to pay any fee to an attorney
unless he or she wins. For the attorney there are contingencies other than winning.
From the attorney’s perspective, his or her fee is contingent on factors other than simply
winning or losing. For example, the period over which the retroactive benefits are
calculated can be reduced by the ALJ’s decision to find the claimant disabled from a
later date than initially alleged, the AOD, resulting in, first, reduced retroactive benefits
for the claimant and, second, a reduced fee for the attorney. The later onset date can
also result in a lower benefit if the later date causes the claimant to be only eligible for
Retroactive benefits can also be reduced, sometimes without the earlier knowledge of
the attorney, by worker’s compensation payments, child support arrearages, unpaid
taxes due to the government and other government benefits paid to the claimant to
name a few. In other words, the attorney might receive less money for his or her fee
simply because money upon which his fee would have been based has been reduced
by monies the claimant has already received from another source.