No lawyer can charge a fee unless you win your case. The actual amount of the fee is based on the amount of the accrued benefits. Typical language in a fee agreement is If I am awarded benefits the fee will be limited to 25% of the benefits accrued while my claim has been pending; or, $7,200 [or a higher amount according to 42 U.S.C. §406(a)(2)(A) [the fee schedule rules set by the Social Security Administration] which ever is less.
Accrued benefits are any and all benefits received from the date an application is first filed to the date on which benefits are paid by Social Security. The date, called the established eligibility date, is determined by the Social Security Agency.
If I disagree with the ALJ’s decision, I have a right to appeal the decision to the Social Security Appeals Council. [LAWYER] may or may not agree to help me with this appeal. If Ms. Tracy proceeds with the appeal, the fee may be higher than $7,200 but never more than 25% because of the additional work involved. [LAWYER] will decline to file an Appeals Council Appeal in the event that s/he believes the ALJ made a legal error.
For example, if you win following a hearing, and if your accrued benefits total $12,000; the fee would be $3,000. If your accrued benefits are $28,800; the fee would be $7,200. If your accrued benefits are $76,000; the fee would be $7,200. If your claim is denied at the hearing; but appealed; remanded and eventually approved, your fee will not exceed 45%, but may exceed $7,200. No matter how many lawyers you have/had, you will never pay more than a total of 25% of your accrued benefits. When there is more than one lawyer, the Judge decides how much each lawyer should be paid.