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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

What Is A Fee Petition?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Oct 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Once Social Security finds that you are disabled, your lawyer may ask you to sign a fee petition.  What is a fee petition? Should you sign it?

A Request To Be Paid

A fee petition is nothing more than a request by your lawyer to get paid for the time she spent working on your claim.  Most Social Security disability lawyers do not often file fee petitions. This is because, for the great majority of claims, Social Security pays the lawyer directly.  Social Security does this by withholding part of a claimant's back benefits.  The standard fee agreement calls for a

You Have The Worst Kind Of Mail

lawyer to receive 25% of the back benefits to a maximum of $6,000.00. In the absence of any odd angles to the case, this is how the lawyer gets paid for her time.

Two Lawyers? Fee Petition Time

There are circumstances, however, when Social Security cannot pay the lawyer her 25% directly.  This can arise in a number of ways. The most common is when a claimant has had two or more lawyers on the same case.  If both lawyers want to get paid, Social Security cannot divide the fee on its own. Rather, it asks the lawyers to file fee petitions  These fee petitions spell out in detail what each lawyer did on the case. 

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who heard the case reviews the fee petitions for approval. If the claimant has signed the fee petition, the ALJ is likely to approve it. This is why your lawyer will ask you to sign before she submits the fee petition to the judge.

Don't Sign If You Think The Fee Is Too High

If your lawyer asks you to sign a fee petition, keep in mind you do not have to do so.  If you think one or both of your lawyers is charging too much, you can ask the ALJ to reduce the fees. Unless the lawyers are really overreaching, the ALJ is probably going to approve the fee.  

Negotiate A Fair Fee And Then Sign

A different approach you can take it to ask the lawyer to lower his requested fee before you sign off.  The lawyer might object, but she might also see the wisdom in this approach. Most lawyers are not going to want to submit fee petitions that draw objections. This is the kind of thing that might cause an ALJ to wonder about a lawyer's billing practices.

Let's Make A Deal

If your lawyer needs to file a fee petition, ask him to go over all of the numbers on it with you.  If you concur that the charges are reasonable, sign the fee petition. If not, ask the lawyer to reduce them before you sign. If that does not work, object to the fee petition and explain in calm, rational language why you think the proposed fee is too high.

Has your lawyer presented you with a fee petition? Did you sign?  Have you objected to a fee petition? How did the ALJ rule?  Let me know. 

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 25+ years.

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Feel free to call with any questions or concerns you have about Social Security disability. I never charge for a consultation. In fact, there is no charge at all until we win your case. Unlike most lawyers, I never charge extra for things like telephone calls or making copies.