Attorney Richard A. Culbertson Obtains Victory from U.S. Supreme Court

Richard A. Culbertson

The Supreme Court Decision will enable Social Security claimants to use a total of 25 percent of their past-due benefits to hire attorneys to help them vindicate their claims at administrative hearings and in federal court.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled 9-0 that the Social Security Act allows disability benefit recipients’ attorneys to receive entirely separate fee awards for their work before the Social Security Administration and their work in court.

The case (Culbertson v. Berryhill, No. 17-773, 586 U.S.) stemmed from a dispute between attorney Culbertson and a Florida federal judge over the amount of fees owed to him after he prevailed in four cases involving Social Security claimants. Culbertson represented his four clients before both the Social Security Administration and a Florida federal judge, and in each case the Social Security commissioner denied his client benefits, but the judge in the cases reversed the decision.

“The Supreme Court Decision will enable Social Security claimants to use a total of 25 percent of their past-due benefits to hire attorneys to help them vindicate their claims at administrative hearings and in federal court,” said Culbertson, founder of Culbertson Law Group, P.L.L.C.

During the trial, Culbertson pointed out that he was entitled to two sets of fees, including representing his client before the SSA, as allowed for in 42 USC 406(a), and for representing his client before the court, as allowed for in 42 USC 406(b). However, the judge denied his request in each of the four cases. Furthermore, when the case went to the Eleventh Circuit, the appellate court referred to its own precedent when deciding which fees to give Culbertson.

Culbertson argued that Section 406 limits only the amount of fees that can be taken from a client’s benefit award, but does not limit the amount of fees that can be authorized. He further noted that the Equal Access to Justice Act allows Social Security attorneys to receive fees from the government, so they don’t need to be limited only to what a client can provide.

“When attorneys represent clients before both the SSA and a court, federal statutes authorize fees for each type of work done and it is improper to lump both fees together and apply a single cap,” concluded Culbertson.

About Culbertson Law Group, P.L.L.C.
The Culbertson Law Group is one of only two firms in Florida that employs two board certified Social Security disability attorneys. The firm focuses on Social Security Law and Supplemental Security Income. For more information, call (407) 894-0888, or visit http://www.richardculbertsonlaw.com.

For media inquiries, please call the NALA at 805.650.6121, ext. 361.

Share article on social media or email: