SSA has two alternative methods of authorizing representatives' fees:
the fee agreement process described herein. The fee agreement process was first applicable
for claims and post-entitlement actions decided on or after July 1, 1991.
If the representative elects to use the fee agreement process, the claimant or the
representative(s) must submit the agreement to SSA before the date SSA makes the first
favorable determination or decision (hereinafter, we generally refer to both as a
"decision") the representative worked toward achieving on a claim or post-entitlement
or post-eligibility (PE) action. The date SSA makes a favorable decision is the date
shown on the notice of favorable decision (see GN 03940.001B). Refer to GN 03940.003B.5. for guidance on actions for which SSA cannot approve a fee agreement.
The fee agreement decision maker will approve or disapprove the fee agreement. To
be approved, the fee agreement must meet the statutory conditions defined in GN 03940.003B. The fee agreement will be excluded from the fee agreement process if one of the exceptions
listed in GN 03940.003D. applies.
Unless the claimant or representative submits a fee agreement before the date SSA
makes the first favorable decision the representative worked toward achieving on a
claim or PE action, SSA assumes the representative will either file a fee petition
or waive a fee. (See GN 03920.020 for policies and procedures on waiver.)
The two fee authorization processes are not interchangeable. However, if a representative
elects the fee agreement process but SSA does not approve the agreement (i.e., it
either does not meet the statutory conditions described in GN 03940.003B. or an exception in GN 03940.003D. applies), or if a party to the agreement requests administrative review of the disapproval
and SSA upholds the disapproval (see GN 03960.000 for administrative review policy and procedures), the representative must file a
fee petition if they want to charge and collect a fee.
If a decision maker approves a fee agreement in connection with a favorable decision,
but the favorable decision is later vacated, the approval of the fee agreement and
any authorization of fees under the agreement are vacated as well because there is
no favorable decision. If a decision maker subsequently issues a favorable decision,
the decision maker will make a new decision to approve or disapprove the fee agreement.
Because fee agreements apply only to cases in which SSA issues the favorable decision,
fee agreements do not apply to cases in which a Federal court issues the favorable