TN 7 (07-04)

GN 03930.005 Selection of the Fee Petition Process

A. Policy - General

A representative who wants to charge and collect a fee for services provided in any proceeding before SSA under the Social Security Act must first obtain SSA's authorization. (GN 03920.010 discusses the only exceptions.) The representative must use one of two, mutually exclusive fee authorization processes: the fee petition process that this subchapter describes or the fee agreement process that GN 03940.000 describes.

NOTE: A representative may waive his right to charge and a collect a fee from a claimant, but not from a third party. See GN 03920.020H. - Waiver of Fee or Direct Payment of Representative's Fee. In these situations, SSA must still authorize the representative's fee petition per the instructions in GN 03930.100 – Review of Itemized Services Provided Below the Hearing Level, GN 03930.105 Determining the Fee for Services Provided Below the Hearing Level, and GN 03930.110 – Notifying the Representative and the Claimant of the Fee Authorized Under the Fee Petition Process for Services Below the Hearing Level.

B. Policy - Selection of Process

1. Choice

The representative generally selects which process to use. The two fee authorization processes are not interchangeable. If the representative files a fee petition, SSA uses the fee petition process to authorize the fee.

EXAMPLE: The representative chose to use the fee petition process to request SSA's fee authorization. Therefore, the representative waited until after her services were completed before she requested authorization of a fee. The representative filed a Form SSA-1560- (Petition For Authorization To Charge And Collect A Fee For Services Before The Social Security Administration) with SSA. The representative answered “yes” to item 2, indicating that she and the claimant had entered into an agreement for services as described in GN 03930.001C.3., and she attached a copy of the fee arrangement she had with the claimant to the SSA-1560. (Do not confuse the fee petition with the attached “fee agreement” with the fee agreement described in GN 03940 - Fee Authorization Under the Fee Agreement Process.)

2. Two-Tiered Arrangement

The representative and the claimant may have agreed to a two-tiered arrangement under which the representative has selected:

  • the fee agreement process, if SSA favorably decides the claim at a certain level (e.g., at or below the first Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing); and

  • the fee petition process, if the claim progresses beyond the level specified in the agreement.

See GN 03920.001C.2. for an example.

3. Presumption

Unless the representative files a fee agreement before the date we make the first favorable determination or decision the representative worked toward achieving, SSA presumes that he/she will either file a fee petition or waive a fee.

4. Court Case

When a court makes the final decision regarding the claimant’s entitlement or eligibility to benefits, the representative must submit a fee petition to receive a fee for the services the representative provided before SSA. The filing of a fee petition is required even if the representative previously submitted a fee agreement which was approved at the administrative level, because the fee agreement process applies only in a case favorably decided by the Commissioner.

NOTE: If the court remands a case to the Commissioner, an ALJ or the Appeals Council issues a favorable decision and the claimant and representative had submitted a fee agreement, the ALJ or the Administrative Appeals Judge must approve or disapprove the fee agreement. Only if the fee agreement is disapproved is the representative required to file a fee petition if he/she wants to charge and collect a fee.

C. References

For a comparison of the two processes, see GN 03920.001B. For a list of when the representative must file a fee petition to obtain SSA's authorization, see GN 03920.001C.4.