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Supreme Court to review attorneys' fees for Social Security cases

People in Pennsylvania sometimes seek legal help when pursuing Social Security benefits. Two federal laws guide compensation for attorneys working on these cases, but the decisions among federal appellate courts have been split on the issue, and now the Supreme Court of the United States has accepted a case to resolve the confusion.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th, 9th and 10th Circuits ruled that only cases involving Social Security benefits argued in court must cap attorney compensation at 25 percent. The 4th, 5th and 11th Circuits, however, decided that legal fees must also be capped on cases presented at only the administrative level.

The Supreme Court will examine the facts of a case brought by an attorney who represented four cases but received significantly different rulings about compensation in each of the cases. He requested fees of $4,488 for one case but only received $1,623. Another case earned him $3,325 if he promised not to ask the court for more. The courts rejected his compensation requests completely in two other cases. He challenged his treatment by claiming that the court applied the statutes incorrectly and ignored a court precedent. After failing in district court and on appeal, he sought a ruling from the Supreme Court.

A person has the option of obtaining legal support when applying for SS Disability. An attorney may be able to relieve the burden of collecting and organizing medical evidence for a person hindered by a significant physical or mental condition. An attorney's familiarity with the requirements and paperwork might result in a complete application or enable a person to challenge a denial of benefits.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Justices to Clarify Attorney's Fee Rules in Disability Benefits Cases", Dan McCue, May 21, 2018

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