Social security attorneys help individuals who are seeking social security benefits from disabilities, or those who've had benefits cut during retirement. Most work for the law firms, advocacy groups or the Social Security Administration -- some on behalf of the agency. If you care about people and want to see them compensated fairly for their hard work, the job of social security attorney may be the right career. First, you'll you'll need to earn a law degree. In return, you can expect to earn a salary averaging nearly $60,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for a social security attorney was $59,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. To work in this field, you need to have both a bachelor's and juris doctor (J.D.), or law degree, which take about seven years to complete, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. After graduation, you also need to pass the American Bar Association examination to get your law license. Other essential qualifications are research, analytical, interpersonal, problem-solving, writing and speaking skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average annual salaries for social security attorneys varied most significantly in the South Region, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the highest salaries of $94,000 in Washington, D.C., and lowest of $46,000 in Mississippi. Those in the Midwest made $46,000 to $63,000 in South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. These attorneys earned $53,000 to $72,000 per year in Maine and Massachusetts, respectively, which were the lowest and highest incomes in the Northeast. In the West, they made the most in Alaska and California and least in California -- $67,000 and $48,000, respectively.
A social security attorney usually earns as she gains experience. Most get paid on a grade scale and earn more once they reach certain experience milestones, according to the Association For Legal Career Professionals -- 6 to 10 years and 11 to 15 years, for example. You would also likely earn more in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., because living expenses are more in that state and region. If you earned $60,000 as a social security attorney in Shreveport, Louisiana, you'd need to make $84,492 in Boston to enjoy the same living standard. In Washington, D.C., you'd need to earn $88,184 per year, or approximately 50 percent more.
The BLS predicts a 10 percent increase in jobs for all lawyers through 2020, which is statistically about average. An aging population may produce more jobs for social security attorneys, as older Americans are more prone to disabilities. Keeping up with social security laws and looking for jobs in cities with large senior populations may increase your number of employment opportunities.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Lawyer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Lawyers: Job Outlook
- State of North Dakota: Social Security Administrative Attorney Advisor
- Social Security Administration: Jobs With Social Security
- Simply Hired: Average Social Security Attorney Salaries
- The Association For Legal Career Professionals: New Findings on Salaries for Public Interest Attorneys
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
- Simply Hired: Average Social Security Attorney Salaries in ME, NY and MA
- Simply Hired: Average Social Security Attorney Salaries in MS and DC