If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and your claim was denied at both the hearing level and by the Appeals Council, the next step will be to file a lawsuit against the Commissioner of Social Security in federal court. This can be an expensive appeal, but there are ways to have the fees waived.
The Cost of Filing a Lawsuit
The initial cost for filing a civil case in federal court is $400 and includes a $50 administrative fee. If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, your attorney may ask permission to have the court waive the fee. If this request is denied, you typically have to pay the fee before your attorney will move forward with your case.
If you win your case and the denial of your disability benefits is reversed, granting you benefits, or if your case is sent back for a new hearing, you may be able to have your attorney fees awarded in your lawsuit through the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).
EAJA fees can only be awarded to people who have less than a $2 million net worth.
EAJA fees are designed to cover legal bills and were once paid to attorneys directly. Today, clients receive the fees and then must sign the money over to their lawyers. This allows the federal government to first gather debts owed them by clients like child support or back taxes.
According to the law, lawyers can receive $125 hourly in EAJA fees. This amount might be adjusted because of inflation or market rates. Documentation of an attorneys hours is required.
AN EAJA application must be filed within 30 days of receiving a final judgement. However, there is a 60 day window for appeals before a judgement is considered final.
It is difficult to prove that the governments actions were not substantially justified in order to have EAJA fees awarded. Having an experienced disability benefits attorney in Phoenix on your side can help you prevail in this level of the appeals process. Our team of legal professionals will represent you and assist you throughout this process. Contact us today for a free consultation.