The United States Supreme Court recently agreed to review a case filed on behalf of the Culbertson Law Group, P.L.L.C. The case is Culbertson v. The Commissioner of Social Security, Case No. 17-773.
The firm had successfully represented four disability claimants in federal court. The Court agreed with the firm’s legal arguments and ordered Social Security to give all four clients new hearings. Each of the claimants were awarded retroactive and future disability benefits after their supplemental administrative hearings. After the claimants received their disability benefits, the local court would not authorize the fee the disabled claimants agreed to pay. This is an important issue to disabled claimants because they would not be able to successfully pursue their disability claims in federal court if they are not allowed to pay a reasonable fee to obtain representation by experienced attorneys. If these disabled people could not appeal the wrongful denial of their claims to federal court, they would not get their Social Security Disability or the medical coverage that comes along with it. The government would basically keep all the money these people paid in during their entire working lives.
Three other Circuit Courts of Appeal have agreed with the interpretation of the Social Security Act argued by Culbertson. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has a different interpretation. The Supreme Court will consider whether disability claimants can use up to a total of twenty-five percent of their past-due benefits to hire attorneys to represent them before Social Security Administrative Law Judges and in federal court appeals.
Oral argument before the Supreme Court is expected to be held in November. A decision is expected early next year.