TN 7 (07-04)
GN 03930.095 Preliminary Actions on Receiving the Petition for a Fee for Services Below the Hearing Level
The fee reviewer in the processing center (PC) receives the representative's petition for a fee for services below the hearing level. The reviewer may receive it with the claim file (see GN 03930.025) or may have the information required to process the request available electronically, either through SSA’s databases or the Paperless Processing Center (PPC).
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.
If you received the claim file with the petition or do not need the paper claim file, go to GN 03930.095B.2.
1. Request the Claim File
If you did not receive the claim file with the petition and need it to process the petition, request the file and ascertain when you may expect it. If the delay is significant:
If the field office (FO) is working on the case, retain the original fee petition; send a copy of the petition and a copy of Form SSA-5015-U2 (Diary and Listing Slip) to the FO to include in the file.
2. Screen the Petition and the Information Pertinent to the Petition
Screen the petition and the claim file or electronic record.
Confirm that the claimant's current or former representative filed the petition, rather than another party.
Review the petition for omissions. Ask the representative to provide omitted information (see GN 03930.095B.5.) within 15 days of the date of your request. Explain that if we do not receive it, we may process the petition based on the information supplied.
Proceed with the evaluation unless GN 03930.095B.3., GN 03930.095B.4., or GN 03930.095B.5. applies.
3. Fee Petition Filed Prematurely
When information in the petition or the claim file indicates that services are continuing, ask the representative whether his or her services have ended.
a. Representative Not Providing Services
If the representative is not providing services for which he or she plans to charge and collect a fee, prepare a Report of Contact for the file and proceed with the evaluation unless GN 03930.095B.4. or GN 03930.095B.5. applies.
b. Representative Providing Services
If the representative is still providing services for which he or she plans to charge and collect a fee, take the action below. Use the model letter in GN 03930.140 as a guide.
Prepare a letter to the representative explaining that we are returning the fee request because his or her services have not ended; that the representative may file a new request after services are completed, using the enclosed Form SSA-1560 (Petition For Authorization To Charge And Collect A Fee For Services Before The Social Security Administration); and that 20 CFR 404.1725(a) and 20 CFR 416.1525(a) explain when and how to request a fee for social security and supplemental security income cases, respectively.
Enclose both the prematurely filed fee petition and a blank SSA-1560.
Send the letter to the representative and a copy to the claimant.
4. Claimant Not Provided a Copy of Petition
a. Presumption That Claimant Received Copy of Fee Petition
The regulations at 20 CFR 404.1725 and 20 CFR 416.1525 mandate that the representative must submit a statement with the fee petition to certify that he or she has furnished a copy of the petition and the attachments to the person for whom he or she performed the services. (see GN 03930.020C.3.).
Failure to comply with Social Security law and regulations pertaining to representation may result in suspension or disqualification from practice before SSA, the imposition of criminal penalties, or both. Refer to GN 03970.000 for information on suspension or disqualification of attorneys and other representatives.
Therefore, presume that the representative provided the claimant with a copy of the fee petition unless evidence indicates he or she did not.
b. Representative Did Not Provide Claimant with Copy of Fee Petition
If you believe the representative did not provide the claimant with a copy of the fee petition, take the actions shown. Use the model letter in GN 03930.145 as a guide.
Prepare a letter to the claimant explaining that we have enclosed a copy of his or her representative's fee request; that the claimant should let us know within 20 days if he or she disagrees with the fee requested or any information shown; and that we will not consider the request further until the claimant has had this opportunity to comment.
Enclose a copy of the fee petition and any attachments, and a self-addressed envelope.
Send the letter to the claimant and a copy to the representative.
Diary the case (as shown in GN 03930.095B.7.) for 30 days, to allow mailing time.
5. Development Necessary
Initiate any necessary development through direct contact. If direct contact fails, decide whether to develop through the FO or to evaluate the petition based on the information supplied. Diary the case, if necessary, as shown in GN 03930.095B.7.
An attorney files a fee petition requesting a fee for legal services in settling an estate, prosecuting an action in State court, and representing the claimant before SSA. You ask the attorney to clarify what amount he or she is requesting for services provided in connection with the proceedings before SSA.
The field office is developing the case for capability. You set the fee after the capability determination to protect the claimant’s right to request administrative review of the fee.
6. Provide Notice of Expected Delay
If you do not expect to respond within 60 days of receipt, advise the person who filed the fee petition. When appropriate, combine this status letter with a request for additional information.
EXAMPLE: The claimant's legal guardian files the fee petition requesting SSA to authorize a fee for representation. You plan to defer evaluating the petition until the guardian submits a copy of the State court's action (see GN 03920.010E).
7. Setting the Diary
If you must diary the case, show the TOEL code of ATFEE PETPAY and reason for the diary as “Fee Petition.”