I-1-2-32.Fee Agreement - Appeals Council Level — Attorney Fee Branch Procedures
Last Update: 1/28/03 (Transmittal I-1-44)
A. OAO Hearings and Appeals Analyst Recommends Favorable Decision
When the analyst recommends a favorable or partially favorable decision (see I-1-2-31C.), he/she will route the fee agreement, the appeals file and the claim(s) file to the Attorney Fee Branch (AFB).
1. ALJ Approved Fee Agreement
If the analyst recommends that the Appeals Council (AC) issue a favorable or partially favorable decision after an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a favorable decision and approved the fee agreement, the AFB will determine whether the ALJ's approval should remain in effect (see I-1-2-14(B.)). If the ALJ approved the fee agreement and the fee agreement continues to meet the requirements in I-1-2-12(A. and B.), no further action on the fee agreement is required.
2. Fee Agreement Not Previously Approved
Determine whether the fee agreement meets the conditions in I-1-2-12(A.), whether one or more of the exceptions in I-1-2-12(B.) apply, and complete the fee agreement recommendation form (see I-1-2-104).
Submit the recommendation and order to the AFB reviewing official.
Input fee agreement information into the Attorney Fee Tracking System (AFTS).
Release the files with the fee agreement, the completed fee agreement recommendation form and the AC Order, to the AAJ.
B. Fee Agreement Received After AC Issued Favorable Decision
If the AFB receives a fee agreement after the AC issued a favorable or partially favorable decision and the claim(s) file is already in a processing center (PC) or field office (FO) for effectuation of the decision, determine whether the fee agreement was filed with SSA before or after the date of the favorable decision.
1. Fee Agreement Filed With SSA Before the Date of the Favorable Decision
Determine whether the fee agreement meets the conditions in I-1-2-12(A.).
If the agreement meets these conditions, telephone a claims authorizer or reconsideration reviewer in the PC, or a claims representative in the FO where the claim(s) file is located, and ask the individual to review the claim(s) file to determine whether any of the exceptions in I-1-2-12(B.) applies.
Proceed with A.2. above.
2. Fee Agreement Filed With SSA After the Date of the Favorable Decision
Complete a fee agreement recommendation form and recommend that the AAJ disapprove the fee agreement.
Proceed with A.2., second bullet, above.
C. AAJ Requested Copy of the Award Notice
PCs send to the AFB the award notice that includes the amount of the fee. If an AAJ requested a copy of the award notice (see I-1-2-33(A.)), the AFB will:
Maintain a list of such requests by the name and social security number (SSN) of each claimant with an annotation of the AAJ's name.
Upon receiving an award notice or, in a title II case, obtaining a copy of the notice through the On Line Notice Retrieval System (ONRS - function 31 on the SSA MENU MAIN (refer to MSOM MCS 001.002)), determine whether an AAJ asked to see it. If so, immediately request the appeals file from the OAO branch, then send the notice and appeals file to the AAJ so that he/she can decide whether to request administrative review within 15 days of ODAR's receiving the notice.
D. Post Decisional Correspondence/Communications
1. Representative Did Not Receive Fee Agreement Determination
If the AAJ acted on the fee agreement, send the representative a copy of the order.
If the fee agreement was in file when the AC issued the decision, but the AAJ did not make a fee agreement determination, prepare a recommendation and order for the “A” member's signature. (See A.2. above.) If the AAJ approves the fee agreement, distribute the order to all the parties and fax the order, agreement and appointment of representative documents to the component effectuating the decision (refer to I-1-2-114(A.) for the Fax Cover Sheet). If the file contains a fee agreement, but SSA received the agreement after the date of the favorable decision, prepare a recommendation and order for the “A” member's signature, disapproving the fee agreement.
If the file does not contain a fee agreement, determine if one was filed, but not yet received by OAO. (If the claim is a Title II MCS claim, review the NOT2 MCS screen. For other cases, obtain a QRID query.) If there is no indication that SSA has received a fee agreement, advise the representative that we were unable to locate a record of the fee agreement having been received.
2. PC Issued an Incorrect Notice Advising the Representative to File a Fee Petition
Check the Online Notice Retrieval System (ONRS), function 31 on the SSA menu, for the contents of the award notice.
Request the appeals file from the branch.
After verifying that the award notice carried incorrect information, use the cover sheet at I-1-2-114(A.) to fax the fee agreement approval to the office effectuating the decision. Indicate on the fax sheet that the PC issued an incorrect notice and request that they process the fee agreement.