If you are applying for Social Security disability you can choose to have someone represent you. This person could be a disability representative or an attorney. Keep in mind that most disability representatives are not attorneys; they did not attend law school and you should carefully scrutinize their qualifications to represent you.
Social Security places limits on what this person can charge you for their services. Any fee agreement you sign with this person must be approved by Social Security.
Once you have designated a representative for Social Security this person will be able to access your Social Security record, provide medical information to support your case, and represent you at any meeting, interview, or hearing you are asked to attend. Your attorney or representative can also help any witnesses prepare their testimony on your behalf. When your case is finished Social Security will provide your attorney or representative with the decision on your case.
If you would like to find an attorney to represent you but don’t know where to start, contact your local Social Security office for a list of attorneys and organizations in your area. After you select a representative you are required to notify Social Security. The form used for this is the SSA-1696 which you can get by calling Social Security’s toll-free number. You must designate this person and sign the form before they will be allowed to represent you.
After you have designated your representative Social Security must approve the fee agreement that person will charge you. Your attorney or representative will submit the fee agreement for you and you will be required to sign it. Once the fee agreement is approved the representative cannot charge you more that what was agreed. This person cannot coerce you into paying anything more that the amount outlined in your fee agreement.
The fees outlined in your fee agreement cannot be more than 25% of any back pay you would collect upon winning your appeal or $5300. The lesser of these two amounts will be awarded to your attorney or representative upon the successful completion of your appeal.
Your attorney or representative may still be able to bill you for their out of pocket costs without having these expenses approved by Social Security. If your appeal is successful Social Security will typically pay the attorney for you from your past due benefits.