How Do Lawyers Get Paid?

June 27, 2022

How do attorney fees work?

How Do Disability Lawyers Get Paid?

Attorney compensation is often a big concern for those seeking Social Security Disability benefits, and rightfully so. Attorneys are notoriously expensive, and there are a lot of different ways in which attorneys can charge: hourly, flat rate, contingency, success, etc. Today we break down the nuts and bolts of how your Social Security Disability attorneys are paid.

First and foremost, if you hire a Social Security Disability attorney, you will never have to pay for their services upfront. When you are filling out the paperwork necessary to hire your representative, you will also fill out a fee agreement that will be submitted to the Social Security Administration. These fee agreements are on a contingency basis, which means that your disability attorney is only paid if/when you win your case, and receive backpay.

Federal law limits fees charged by Social Security Disability attorneys to 25% of your backpay or $6000, whichever is less. So what is backpay?

When you apply for benefits, you input an alleged onset date (AOD) on your application, which is the date that your disabling conditions prevented you from working. More often than not, you are awarded benefits months, sometimes years after that date. When you are finally awarded benefits, you will be paid for the months before your hearing that you were considered disabled, but were not receiving benefits.


  • You apply for SSD benefits on February 1, 2018, with an AOD of December 1, 2017. At your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on July 10, 2019, you are approved for benefits beginning at your AOD. You will then receive either a lump sum payment (if you applied for SSDI) or several smaller payments (if you applied for SSI), that equal the amount of benefits you should have received while disabled (from 12/01/2017-09/10/2019).

As typically dictated by your fee agreement, the Social Security Administration will withhold the appropriate amount of money and pay it directly to your attorney before you even receive your first payment. This will save you the hassle of having to arrange payment to your attorneys.

It is important to note, there are 2 situations in which your attorney will not be entitled to a fee:

  1. Your claim is unsuccessful, or
  2. Your claim is successful, but you do not receive any backpay.

Having a lawyer on your side has its benefits. At Kapor Davis & Associates, we provide you with personalized service and direct access to your attorney and paralegals.

  • You will have answers if/when you need them.
  • We will provide you with insights and guidance throughout the process, and make sure that you are as comfortable with your claim as possible.
  • You will not miss any deadlines or appointments
  • We can increase your chances of approval. (See here.)

If need help with your claim, or have any questions, please contact us or visit our Cincinnati office.