SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home2018. Representatives' Fees

2018.1 Who sets the fees for your representative’s services?

Your representative cannot charge and collect a fee from you or another individual unless we first authorize the fee.

2018.2 When we do not need to authorize a representative's fee.

There is an exception to the requirement that we must authorize the amount of the fee your representative may charge. Sometimes a third-party entity such as a business, firm, or other association (including but not limited to partnerships, corporations, for-profit or nonprofit organizations, or a government agency) will provide you with representation and pay your representative's fee. If a third-party pays your representative’s fee and expenses, then we do not have to authorize the fee if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. You and any auxiliary beneficiaries are free of direct or indirect financial liability to pay a fee or expenses, either in whole or in part, to your representative or to someone else;

  2. A third-party entity, or a government agency from its own funds, pays the fee and expenses incurred, if any, on behalf of you and any auxiliary beneficiaries; and

  3. The representative submits a written statement to SSA waiving the right to charge and collect a fee and expenses from you and any auxiliary beneficiaries.

2018.3 How does SSA authorize fees?

We have two methods of authorizing representatives’ fees: (1) fee agreement and (2) fee petition processes.

If you and your representative elect to use the fee agreement process, you must file a written agreement with us before the date that we make a favorable determination or decision on the claim. We usually approve the fee agreement if:

  1. Both you and your representative have signed it; and

  2. The fee specified in the agreement does not exceed 25 percent of the past-due benefits or $6,000 (or such higher amount as the Commissioner of Social Security may prescribe pursuant to section 206(a)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act), whichever is less; and

  3. Our determination or decision in the claim is fully or partially favorable; and

  4. The claim results in past-due benefits.

2018.4 When does SSA approve or disapprove the fee agreement?

We approve or disapprove the fee agreement at the time we make a favorable determination or decision on a claim. We then notify you and your representative of our determination on the fee agreement.

2018.5 If SSA disapproves the fee agreement, can the claimant request review?

Yes. If we disapprove the fee agreement, you and your representative have 15 days after the date of receiving notice of the disapproval to request review of the determination.

2018.6 If SSA approves the fee agreement, what actions take place?

If we approve the fee agreement, we notify you and your representative of:

  1. The amount of the past-due benefits;

  2. The amount of the past-due benefits payable to you;

  3. The amount of the fee that the representative may charge and collect; and

  4. An explanation that, within 15 days after the date of receiving the notice, you, an affected auxiliary beneficiary(ies), your representative, or the decision maker may ask us to review the amount of the fee.

2018.7 If the determination or decision on the claim is unfavorable or SSA does not approve the fee agreement, how can a representative charge a fee?

If the determination or decision on the claim is unfavorable or we do not approve the fee agreement, the representative must file a fee petition if he or she wishes to charge and collect a fee.

2018.8 When must the representative file the fee petition be filed?

If your representative uses the fee petition process, he or she must file a petition with us after completing his or her services on a claim. Your representative should submit the petition for a fee for services as soon as possible after his or her services end.

2018.9 Does the claimant receive a copy of the fee petition?

Yes, the representative must also send a copy of the fee petition to you.

2018.10 Where can the representative obatin a fee petition form?

Any Social Security office has a form available, listing all the required information to petition for a fee. Form SSA-1560, Petition to Obtain Approval of a Fee for Representing a Claimant, is also available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-1560.pdf.

2018.11 When does SSA set the fee?

When we receive the petition from the representative stating the amount of the fee requested and giving a detailed description of services that the representative provided to you, with the amount of time spent on each service, we will set the amount of the fee.

2018.12 What is the basis for the authorized fee?

We use several factors to determine the amount of the fee authorized under the fee petition process. These factors include:

  1. The extent and type of services the representative performed;

  2. The complexity of the case;

  3. The level of skill and competence required of the representative in giving the services;

  4. The amount of time the representative spent on the case.

  5. The results the representative achieved;

2018.13 What information does SSA provide about the fee?

We notify both you and your representative of the fee authorized under the fee petition process, and give a complete explanation of how we determined the amount of the fee.

2018.14 Can the claimant request a review of the fee?

You, an affected auxiliary beneficiary(ies), or your representative may request a review of the fee determined under a fee petition within 30 days after receipt of the notice.

Last Revised: Aug. 8, 2011