I-1-2-55.Representative Is Eligible to Receive Direct Fee Payment - Effectuating Component, OHO, and OAO Actions Up to Receipt of Petition
Last Update: 5/8/20 (Transmittal I-1-96)
A. Effectuating Component's Actions After Decision Issued
The effectuating component will:
Issue a notice of award.
After effectuating a fully or partially favorable title II and/or title XVI decision in a case in which the claimant was represented and the representative signed a fee agreement, the appropriate processing center (PC) or field office (FO) sends a copy of the notice of award to the claimant and representative.
The notice of award informs the claimant and the representative of:
the amount of benefits due,
the amount withheld for the payment of a representative fee, and
in fee petition cases, the requirement that the representative eligible for direct fee payment file a fee petition in order to receive direct payment of a fee from withheld benefits.
Set a 60-day diary from the date of the decision.
Email the hearing office (HO) or Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) staff at the end of the 60-day diary period if the effectuating component has not received a fee authorization or information that the representative was granted an extension of time. The PC or, in title XVI only cases, the FO will send an email message requesting status to the designated HO or OAO email address, as appropriate.
If an Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) decision maker issued the fully or partially favorable decision and the HO staff member designated as the PC or FO fee petition contact responds that the staff member has not received a fee petition or waiver statement, check if an extension has been requested or granted. If no extension has been requested or granted, the PC or FO will send the representative a 20-day closeout notice and diary the case for 45 days.
If an Appeals Council (AC) decision maker issued the fully or partially favorable decision, OAO staff will issue the closeout notice. The PC or FO will diary the case for 45 days.
At the end of the 45-day diary period, the PC or FO will send a message to the HO or OAO staff to determine whether the PC or FO should release the past-due benefits.
If OHO or the AC have not received the fee petition or an indication that the representative has or will file a fee petition by the end of any extension of time granted, it immediately will advise the PC or FO to release the past-due benefits.
If OHO or the AC has received or expects to receive a fee petition by the end of any extension of time granted, it will advise the PC or FO to continue to withhold payment.
B. OHO and OAO Actions to Secure Fee Petition
1. 60 Days After the Notice of Award
If the claimant's representative is eligible for direct fee payment and, within 60 days of the date of the notice of award, the PC or FO does not receive the fee authorization or information that the representative was granted an extension of time, the PC or FO will contact the HO or OAO staff by email and request the fee authorization or status of the fee petition.
The HO or OAO fee petition contact will respond immediately by email and advise the PC or FO whether they have received:
a fee petition and sent the fee authorization to the PC or FO (see section B.3. below),
a fee petition and authorization is pending,
a statement of intent to petition and granted an extension of time to file,
a fee waiver statement or direct payment waiver statement, or
neither a petition nor a request for an extension to file one.
If the HO does not provide a timely response, the PC or FO will refer the matter to the Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge (RCALJ). If the RCALJ's office does not respond timely, the PC or FO will contact the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge.
2. HO or OAO Staff Received Fee Petition or Statement of Intent to File One
If the HO or OAO staff received a fee petition or a statement of intent to petition, it will:
advise the PC or FO when the decision maker expects to issue the fee authorization if the decision was issued more than 90 days before the petition was received;
enter the petition information into the Case Processing Management System (CPMS) or the Attorney Fee System (webAFS), as appropriate; and
immediately begin processing the fee petition so that it can be forwarded to the PC or FO as soon as possible.
If the OHO or AC decision maker approved a fee agreement and the representative subsequently filed a fee petition, either on his or her own initiative or in response to an erroneous notice from the PC or FO, refer to Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-1-2-44 A.
3. Action Completed on Fee Petition
When the decision maker completes action on the fee petition, the HO or OAO staff will email a copy of the fee authorization with an explanation documenting the rationale for setting the fee, to the appropriate PC or the appropriate FO in title XVI only cases. PC control mailboxes are provided in HALLEX I-1-2-96. FO fax numbers can be accessed through the Detailed Office/Organization Resource System (DOORS) by going to the Welcome to DOORS Re-Write Application and entering the field office code.
4. Fee Petition Not Received
If the decision maker has not received any of the documents described in B.1. above, the HO or OAO staff should advise the PC or FO of this by email in response to the request for status. For a case decided by an OHO decision maker, the PC or FO will send a closeout notice (see section A above). For a case decided by an AC decision maker, OAO staff will send a closeout notice (see section B.5. below).
5. The Closeout Notice
If OAO staff did not receive a fee petition or a statement of intent to petition within 60 days of the date of the decision, staff will send the representative a 20-day closeout letter advising the representative that:
He or she must file a fee petition or a written request for an extension of time if he or she intends to charge a fee or notify OAO if he or she is waiving the fee.
SSA will release any withheld past-due benefits to the claimant if no petition or request for extension is received within the 20-day period.
The release of withheld benefits does not relieve the representative of the responsibility to petition if he or she later decides to charge a fee.
Attempting to collect a fee without obtaining SSA's authorization could place him or her in violation of section 206(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 406(a)) and the regulations (20 CFR 404.1740(c) and 416.1540(c)).
6. Release of Withheld Benefits
The PC or FO will release withheld past-due benefits to the claimant if the representative eligible for direct fee payment waives the fee or does not submit a fee petition or intent to file a petition and the PC's last diary date expires. THEREFORE, WHEN THE REPRESENTATIVE SUBMITS EITHER THE FEE PETITION OR A STATEMENT OF INTENT TO FILE A PETITION, THE HO OR OAO STAFF MUST IMMEDIATELY ADVISE THE PC OR FO TO PREVENT RELEASE OF PAST-DUE BENEFITS.