§ 404.1730. Payment of fees.

(a) Fees allowed by a Federal court. We will pay an attorney representative out of your past-due benefits the amount of the fee allowed by a Federal court in a proceeding under title II of the Act. The payment we make to the attorney is subject to the limitations described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

(b) Fees we may authorize —(1) Attorneys and eligible non-attorneys. Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, if we make a determination or decision in your favor and you were represented by an attorney or an eligible non-attorney, and as a result of the determination or decision you have past-due benefits, we will pay the representative out of the past-due benefits, the smaller of the amounts in paragraph (b)(1)(i) or (ii) of this section, less the amount of the assessment described in paragraph (d) of this section.

(i) Twenty-five percent of the total of the past-due benefits; or

(ii) The amount of the fee that we set.

(2) Non-attorneys ineligible for direct payment. If the representative is a non-attorney who is ineligible to receive direct payment of his or her fee, we assume no responsibility for the payment of any fee that we authorized. We will not deduct the fee from your past-due benefits.

(c) Time limit for filing request for approval of fee to obtain direct payment. (1) To receive direct fee payment from your past-due benefits, a representative who is an attorney or an eligible non-attorney should file a request for approval of a fee, or written notice of the intent to file a request, at one of our offices, or electronically at the times and in the manner that we prescribe if we give notice that such a method is available, within 60 days of the date we mail the notice of the favorable determination or decision.

(2)(i) If no request is filed within 60 days of the date the notice of the favorable determination is mailed, we will mail a written notice to you and your representative at your last known addresses. The notice will inform you and the representative that unless the representative files, within 20 days from the date of the notice, a written request for approval of a fee under § 404.1725, or a written request for an extension of time, we will pay all the past-due benefits to you.

(ii) The representative must send you a copy of any request made to us for an extension of time. If the request is not filed within 20 days of the date of the notice, or by the last day of any extension we approved, we will pay all past-due benefits to you. We must approve any fee the representative charges after that time, but the collection of any approved fee is a matter between you and the representative.

(d) Assessment when we pay a fee directly to a representative. (1) Whenever we pay a fee directly to a representative from past-due benefits, we impose an assessment on the representative.

(2) The amount of the assessment is equal to the lesser of:

(i) The product we obtain by multiplying the amount of the fee we are paying to the representative by the percentage rate the Commissioner of Social Security determines is necessary to achieve full recovery of the costs of determining and paying fees directly to representatives, but not in excess of 6.3 percent; and

(ii) The maximum assessment amount. The maximum assessment amount was initially set at $75, but by law is adjusted annually to reflect the increase in the cost of living. (See §§ 404.270 through 404.277 for an explanation of how the cost-of-living adjustment is computed.) If the adjusted amount is not a multiple of $1, we round down the amount to the next lower $1, but the amount will not be less than $75. We will announce any increase in the maximum assessment amount and explain how the increase was determined in the Federal Register.

(3) We collect the assessment by subtracting it from the amount of the fee to be paid to the representative. The representative who is subject to an assessment may not, directly or indirectly, request or otherwise obtain reimbursement of the assessment from you.

[72 FR 16724, Apr. 5, 2007, as amended at 76 FR 45193, July 28, 2011]