TN 32 (04-22)

GN 03920.006 Increases to Fee Cap Limits for Fee Agreements

A. Increases to the fee agreement limit

Section 206(a)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act authorizes the Commissioner to periodically increase the maximum dollar amount that a representative(s) may specify in a fee agreement (i.e., fee cap). This section explains how we evaluate fee agreements for claims pending at the time we announce and implement a fee cap increase. To date, the agency has increased the fee cap twice:

Fee Cap Limits Since 1991

Period in Effect

Fee Cap Limit

Authority

Beginning of limits (July 1, 1991) to January 31, 2002

$4,000

Public Law 101-508, Section 5106

February 1, 2002 to June 21, 2009

$5,300

67 FR 2477-01

June 22, 2009 to Present

$6,000

74 FR 6080-02

The parties to a fee agreement (i.e., the claimant and representative(s)) may include language to permit an adjustment of the agreed fee to the maximum statutory fee limit in effect as of the day of our favorable determination or decision. Alternatively, prior to the first favorable determination or decision, the parties may submit a revised fee agreement to acknowledge the increased maximum fee.

B. Which fee agreement is in effect

After we announce an increase in the fee cap limit, the parties to an existing fee agreement (i.e., the claimant and representative(s)) on a pending claim may either continue under the terms of an existing fee agreement already submitted to us, or they may timely submit a revised fee agreement to us.

  • If we have more than one fee agreement, we will act on the latest fee agreement we receive before the date of our first favorable determination or decision. (see GN 03940.003B).

  • If the latest timely submitted fee agreement meets the statutory conditions explained in GN 03940.003B, and no exceptions apply (see GN 03940.003D), we will approve the fee agreement.

  • If the latest timely submitted fee agreement does not meet the statutory conditions, or an exception to the fee agreement applies, we will disapprove the revised fee agreement. In this situation, we will inform the representative(s) of the ability to submit a fee petition for the authorization of fees. For more information, see GN 03930.020.

C. Effect of a fee cap increase that takes place after a fee agreement has already been submitted

We will recognize an otherwise valid fee agreement that contains language to allow an increase in the maximum statutory fee agreed to by the parties (i.e., the claimant and representative(s)). If the fee cap increases on or before the date of a favorable determination or decision, we will consider the new fee cap when authorizing the fee.

For more information about fee agreement evaluation and approval, see GN 03940.003.

  1. 1. 

    If the fee agreement provides a specific dollar cap setting the maximum fee, we will authorize payment for no more than the amount agreed

    EXAMPLE 1

    The fee agreement caps the maximum payment at $5,300.

    In this case, regardless of whether the decision is made before or after the increase in the fee cap, the maximum amount we will authorize to the representative(s) for the claim is $5,300.

    EXAMPLE 2

    The fee agreement caps the maximum fee at $5,300 if decided on or before June 21, 2009 and caps the maximum fee at $6,000 if decided on or after June 22, 2009.

    In this case, we will authorize a fee up to a maximum of $5,300 if a favorable decision is made on or before June 21, 2009 and up to a maximum of $6,000 if a favorable decision is made on or after June 22, 2009.

  2. 2. 

    If the fee agreement permits a fee cap adjustment to the maximum fee allowable under the Act, we will authorize a fee based on the language contained in the fee agreement

    For example, if the fee agreement uses language such as "If SSA favorably decides my claim(s) and the decision results in past-due (retroactive benefits), I agree to pay my representative(s) a fee that does not exceed the lesser of 25 percent of my past-due benefits or the maximum dollar amount allowed under the Social Security Act Section 206(a)(2), or such higher amount set by the Commissioner of Social Security...."

  3. 3. 

    If the fee agreement covers multiple claims or matters, we will authorize a fee to the representative(s) based on the date of the first favorable determination or decision

    If one fee agreement is submitted to cover multiple claims or matters, the fee agreement cap applicable at the time of the first favorable determination or decision applies to fees for services performed on all of the claims or matters identified on the fee agreement, regardless of whether the claims are related (e.g., a concurrent claim or dual entitlement claim) or unrelated (e.g., claims for one individual on different social security numbers) and irrespective of an intervening fee cap increase after the first favorable determination or decision. For further information on the payment of fees resulting from multiple claims, see GN 03940.030 and GN 03940.040.

D. References

GN 03930.020 Petitioning for Approval of a Fee for Services Provided in Proceedings Before SSA.

GN 03940.003 Fee Agreement Evaluation.

GN 03940.030 FO and PC Processing of Fee Agreements on Title II Portion of Concurrent Titles II and XVI Claims.

GN 03940.040 Title II - FO and PC Processing of Fee Agreements on Dual Entitlement Claims..


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0203920006
GN 03920.006 - Increases to Fee Cap Limits for Fee Agreements - 04/06/2022
Batch run: 04/06/2022
Rev:04/06/2022