A federal tort claim is a civil suit against the Federal government for any wrongful
act not including a breach of contract.
The term independent contractor refers to the nature of the legal relationship which
exists between the Federal and State governments despite the fact that agreements
are no longer signed and the DDS functions under regulations.
An amicus curiae brief is filed by someone not a party to the proceeding as a “friend of the court.”
Its purpose is to present arguments to support the plaintiff' or defendant's case.
If the Federal government agrees to represent a DDS employee sued under the Federal
Tort Claims Act, it will be doing so to protect its own interest , i.e., to preserve
If the issue in the case poses a major challenge to SSA policy or procedure, SSA will
recommend to the Department of Justice (DOJ) through the SSA Office of the General
Counsel that DOJ defend the Federal interest.
DOJ may represent the State employee, or, in some cases, may decide to file an “amicus curiae” brief.
The likelihood that DOJ may represent a DDS administrator, DDS examiner, or DDS review
physician, even in a case where there is a major Federal interest, is extremely remote.
Under this Act neither the State agency nor its employees are considered to be an
agent of DHHS.
DDS employees are in the role of independent contractors.
Negligent acts of DDS employees are not considered by the DOJ to be acts of employees of the Federal government.
CE panel physicians are:
responsible for providing for their own legal defense;
not under the specific control of the Federal government;
considered to be “independent contractors” of the State agency rather than employees of the Federal government or of any Federal
The probability of the DOJ representing a CE panel physician is even less likely because
the physician is usually further removed as a subcontractor of the DDS.
Whether these physicians may look to the State for legal representation depends on
whether or not the applicable State law assumes liability for the payment of damages
and for the provisions of legal counsel.
NOTE: If a claimant or beneficiary is injured in the course of a test or examination, including
invasive procedures by an independant contractor or its subcontractor, SSA funds will
not be used to pay for resulting treatment or damages.