Every year or so, we report on the current state of Social Security and how much attorneys are getting paid for their services. The past year has been excellent for attorneys: The average fee a Social Security attorney or advocate representing a claimant has risen to $3,161 in March of 2017, a significant improvement from the fees at this time last year.
How Much Have the Fees Increased?
In January of 2016, the average attorney fee was $3,043. This January, the fee rose to $3,143, a difference of exactly $100. While the average fee has dipped slightly in the first quarter of 2017, attorneys are still making significantly more per case this year. How much of a difference could this make? It all depends on your firm size.
Solo practitioners handling 50 cases per year would make an additional $5,000 this year if the trends continue. While this may not seem like a significant amount of income, it’s the equivalent of winning nearly two additional cases per year.
Mid-sized or nationwide firms will see even more profitability from increased payments. Many nationwide firms take thousands of cases per year—If your law firm takes 3,000 Social Security leads across the country, your additional revenue would rise by a staggering $300,000. This additional income could help you hire new attorneys to take on more cases, or invest in a larger intake staff to vet your Social Security claimants quicker.
Why Might Fees Increase?
There are a few reasons why the average Social Security fee might rise. One is simply that the SSA is taking longer to rule on decisions. A longer time for approval means more back pay for attorneys. While this is beneficial for law firms in the fact that you’ll earn more from one claim, you will also need to wait longer to receive a payment from your client’s case.
Fees also may increase if the SSA begins approving fewer claimants. Stricter qualification criteria will lead to more claims going to an ALJ, subsequently rising the average back pay settlement of the few who are approved. Fortunately, this does not seem to be the case: More claimants were approved in March of 2017 than any month since 2013. The SSA has not approved such a high volume of claims in four years, meaning now is one of the best times to increase your Social Security caseload.
Capitalize Now: Take On More Social Security Cases
Data directly from the SSA shows that now is a great time to increase your caseload. More claimants are getting approved, and the average fee is rising for attorneys. This is a perfect situation for any attorney: You can win more cases and get higher payments each time.
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