WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that federal law imposing a 25-percent cap on fees collected by attorneys representing Social Security disability claimants only applies to their court services.
Under the Social Security Act, an attorney’s fee award for representing disability claimants is capped at 25 percent. The question before the court was whether the 25-percent cap applied only to court proceedings or included fees incurred during appeals before the Social Security Administration.
Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the opinion for the unanimous court, arguing the law allows for attorneys to collect a separate fee for representing clients before the Social Security Administration.
The case involved attorney Richard Culbertson who successfully argued a disability appeal before the Social Security Administration that resulted in benefits being awarded to his client. Later, Culbertson sought to collect reimbursement fees for representing the same client in district court, which had denied the original claim and led to the appeal.