If you agreed to the amount then the atty can ask the Judge to approve the agreed amount. You can write the Judge to object.
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Speak directly with your lawyer about this. You can also speak directly with SSA either by calling them or making an appointment and going to the SSA office and discussing it with them there. Lawyers know full well about the $6,000 cap, so it sounds as though there may well be something else for which funds were withheld. The lawyer didn't overcharge you as s/he is being paid through funds withheld by SSA, and they will not overpay him or her--SSA enforces that $6,000 cap.
Not legal advice, just my two cents. Consult local counsel for legal advice tailored to your specific circumstance. I practice in Vermont ONLY.
There are regulatory caps for the amounts charged by Social Security attorneys, which is 25% of back pay or $6,000, which ever is less. Typically, Social Security withholds the payments and submits them to your attorney. IF Social Security withheld $13,000.00, you can petition them to reimburse you due to the overpayment to your attorney. You can also petition the WA bar association for assistance if you feel that the fee withheld or charged was unreasonable. Prior to doing any of this, I would suggest contacting the actual attorney IN WRITING, expressing your concerns, and asking that your case be credited the additional $7k that was taken.
This comment is provided for informational purposes only, and is not to be considered legal advice and/or the establishment of an attorney/client relationship.
First, the fee agreement is legal. It is called a minimum fee agreement - in the event you win there is a minimum fee of $2000. This is often used in cases where a claimant gets workers comp benefits that might reduce SS benefits.
Second - lawyers have an option - they can use the fee agreement with a $6000 cap, or use a fee agreement with no cap. With no cap, they have to file written fee request with the Judge.
There are some facts missing here. Even the "cap" fee agreements state that if more than one hearing is involved, of if appeals to federal Court or the appeals Council are involved, then the fee would be 25% - not the $6000 cap. so, if either of these circumstances apply, that may explain what is happening.
The fact that $13000 was withheld does not mean the attorney will request the whole amount. If he does, and he did not spend too much time on your case, then your recourse is to file a written objection to the fee request with the office at SSA where the case was decided - probably the Judge.
Talk to your accountant about amending prior year tax returns - the money you receive all at once was for earlier years and if you amend earlier year tax returns, your tax liability may be reduced.
Hope that helps. Good luck to you!
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At this time, Social Security is withholding 25% until they review your attorney's fee petition. If the fee petition asks for the entire amount, you will get a letter from Social Security explaining how you may object to the amount. You may also contact your attorney to work out an agreeable fee. I urge you to contact your attorney first to work something out. Communication is critical and I am confident your attorney will discuss an amicable resolution with you.
Mr. Farrell is completely correct. The $6,000 "cap" isn't really a cap at all, it's just a cap if the attorney wants to get paid easily and quickly, without having to explain himself. Even 25% isn't a cap, when you read the law. Subject to whatever agreement he makes with his client at the beginning, an attorney can petition for any amount from the Agency - even more than $6,000, even more than 25%. In practice, most people follow the $6,000 cap because they want to get paid without filing a petition. Most people also limit their petitions to no more than 25%, because that's all the Agency is going to hold for direct payment. Those are just questions about how easy it is to get paid, though, not what's legal or permissible.
That said, please talk to your attorney about this. You do have the right to object to whatever fee petition he files, if you disagree with it, but it would be much better for everyone if you could all agree on a reasonable fee. Then he can file his fee petition, with your support, and the faster it's granted, the faster the Agency is allowed to release the remainder of the 25% they're currently withholding, if any is left after his fee. If you and your attorney get into a fight over it, the Agency is supposed to hold all of that money until the fee petition issue is resolved.
Jeremy Bordelon is a licensed attorney in the State of Tennessee only, and is authorized to practice in all Tennessee State and Federal courts, and before the Social Security Administration in any jurisdiction. The answers provided on Avvo.com are for information purposes only, and should not be relied on as legal advice. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. In some jurisdictions, this answer may be construed as attorney advertising.