TN 7 (07-04)
GN 03930.015 Responsibility for Authorizing Fees Under the Fee Petition Process for Services Provided in Proceedings Before SSA – Jurisdiction
A. Policy - disposition below the hearing level
In cases resolved below the hearing level, the designated reviewer in the processing center (PC) generally reviews the fee petition and authorizes the fee for services provided in proceedings before SSA. (However, note both the exception in GN 03930.015A.1.b. and the limitation in GN 03930.015D.1.) Neither field office nor Disability Determination Services employees authorize fees under the fee petition process.
NOTE: The job position assigned the responsibility for reviewing fee petitions varies among the PCs.
1. Dismissals of requests for hearing
An Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ's) dismissal of the claimant's request for hearing presents two alternatives.
a. Prehearing case review prompts a favorably revised determination and the dismissal
The designated PC reviewer reviews the fee petition and authorizes the fee for services if:
SSA favorably revised its determination, in whole or in part, after the claimant requested a hearing but before any hearing is held; and
the ALJ dismissed the hearing request based on the issuance of a favorable determination.
b. Other dismissal conditions
The ALJ reviews the fee petition and authorizes the fee for services if the ALJ dismissed the hearing request under any other conditions (e.g., hearing request not timely filed).
2. Chart showing PC jurisdiction
The chart below shows generally which PC has jurisdiction. (If necessary, see GN 01050.055 – GN 01050.075 for more information about PC jurisdiction.)
Type of Claim or Postadjudicative Action
Program Service Center
Title II nondisability cases (including those involving widow(er)'s or child's benefits based on disability, when the wage earner (W/E) is retired or deceased)
Title II disability cases, when the W/E is age 54 or older
Title XVI cases based on age (aged claim)
Title XVI only cases based on disability or blindness
Title II and Title XVI concurrent disability or blindness cases when issue under consideration pertains only to Title XVI case (e.g., income or resource issue)
Office of Disability Operations
Title II disability cases, when the W/E is under age 54
Title XVI cases based on disability or blindness when the eligible individual or eligible spouse is entitled to Title II disability benefits and is under age 54, or when the eligible child is entitled to Title II benefits based on disability and the W/E is disabled
Office of International Operations
All foreign cases
B. Policy - disposition at the ALJ hearing or Appeals Council review level
In cases decided in administrative proceedings at or above the hearing level, the person or component that issued the final favorable decision or took the last unfavorable action generally reviews the fee petition and authorizes any fee for services provided in proceedings before SSA. (However, note the limitation in GN 03930.015D.2.)
1. ALJ hearing level
The ALJ reviews the fee petition and authorizes the fee if the ALJ issued a partially favorable hearing decision which the claimant did not appeal and the Appeals Council did not review on its own motion.
2. Appeals Council review level
The Attorney Fee Branch (AFB) within the Office of Analytics, Review, and Oversight (OARO), Office of Appellate Operations, reviews fee petitions and authorizes fees in cases the Appeals Council resolved.
3. Examples - claimant appeals hearing decision
The AFB reviews the fee petition and authorizes the fee if an ALJ issued a partially favorable decision, the claimant appealed, and the Appeals Council denied the request for review.
The ALJ reviews the fee petition and authorizes the fee if an ALJ issued a partially favorable decision, the claimant appealed, the Appeals Council granted the request for review and remanded the case to an ALJ for further proceedings, and the ALJ issued the final decision.
C. Policy - disposition after court proceedings
In cases decided following Federal court proceedings, the person or component within OARO that issued the final decision or took the last action on SSA's behalf generally reviews the representative's fee petition and authorizes any fee for services provided in proceedings before SSA. (However, note the limitation in GN 03930.015D.2.)
EXAMPLE: If the court remanded the claim to SSA and then an ALJ issued a fully favorable decision, the ALJ reviews the fee petition and authorizes the fee for services provided in proceedings before SSA.
D. Policy - fee would exceed $10,000
1. PC fee authorizer
OARO's AFB must review the PC fee authorizer's recommendation for a fee (or total of fees) greater than $10,000 and authorize the fee amount(s). (GN 03920.015 discusses the delegation of authority.)
2. ALJ fee authorizer
The chart below shows the person who must review an ALJ's recommendation for a fee (or total of fees) greater than $10,000 and authorize the fee amount(s).
Regional Chief ALJ (RCALJ)
Deputy Chief ALJ
Deputy Chief ALJ