I-1-2-15.Two-tiered Fee Agreements

Last Update: 7/22/16 (Transmittal I-1-86)

A claimant and his or her representative may submit a fee agreement that includes a provision limiting the agreement's application to services through a specific level of the administrative appeals process. Such an agreement would provide, in essence, for a two-tiered fee structure. The decision maker will be able to readily ascertain, at the time of the favorable (fully or partially) decision, which tier of the fee structure applies and will either approve or disapprove the fee agreement based on the current level of appeal.

The decision maker will approve such an agreement if, when considering the tier that applies to the level at which the claim was first favorably decided, the agreement meets the statutory conditions for approval and none of the exceptions apply. See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-1-2-12 for fee agreement evaluation policy.

The decision maker will disapprove the agreement if, when considering the tier that applies to the level at which the claim was first favorably decided, the agreement does not meet the statutory conditions for approval (e.g., the fee agreement does not limit the fee to the statutory maximum indicated in HALLEX I-1-2-12), or an exception applies. Disapproval of the fee agreement notifies the claimant and the representative that the Social Security Administration will not authorize a fee based on the fee agreement.

For a sample two-tiered fee agreement clause, see Program Operations Manual System GN 03940.005A.