I am not an attorney and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a legal expert who is familiar with the area of legal expertise you need.
I volunteered to help people fill out disability applications, SSDI or SSI, for a long time. During this time, I never accepted money as the requirements for being a representative who can fill disability applications with Social Security are comprehensive. At some point, I would encourage many of the people I worked with to get an attorney. In the case of hiring an attorney, Social Security allows the attorney to get 25% or $6,000, whichever is less. There is an exception to this rule: attorneys can charge reasonable fees on top of the 25%/$6K. That’s a point missed by many who apply for SSDI or SSI. I worked with someone who later went with an attorney.
The person noticed when they were approved for SSDI, the lawyer got $6K, but Social Security withheld 25%, minus the $6K paid to the attorney of the backpay. They asked me why. I said the attorney needed to verify the person had no outstanding balance owed. The attorney had to notify Social Security if there was an outstanding balance. This falls on the attorney’s shoulders. If they never notify Social Security, the amount stays withheld. It had been a long time and I suggested they contact the attorney and let them know what was going on. Basically, the attorney said they contacted Social Security, but after getting contacted by their client, they let Social Security know the client had paid the reasonable fees.
It’s important to understand Social Security knows what fees it consider reasonable. Most lawyers are familiar with what Social Security will and will not consider reasonable fees. On the rare chance, it goes to federal district court and a client wins, Social Security pays the attorney. The odds of winning at the district court level tend to be very low. Most attorneys won’t file that appeal unless they think the odds of winning are much higher. After all, if the attorney loses at that level, they are out a lot of time and effort.
In my experience helping people, it takes 3.5 – 6 years to get approved with some clients appealing for 6 – 10 years and losing. There are exceptions as a few conditions are automatically approved.