I-1-2-56.Fee Petition — Initial Processing Procedures
Last Update: 2/25/05 (Transmittal I-1-48)
Representatives should file Form SSA-1560-U4 (Petition to Obtain Approval of a Fee for Representing a Claimant before the Social Security Administration), or a written statement providing the same information only after he/she has completed all services.
A. Office Receives the Petition
1. Associate with Office File
Date stamp the form or statement and associate it with the hearing office (HO) or the appeals file.
2. Screen the Petition
Confirm that the claimant's current or former representative filed the petition, rather than another party.
Review the petition for omissions. Ask the representative to provide omitted information within 15 days of the date of your request. Explain that if we do not receive it, we may process the petition based on the information supplied.
Proceed to B. unless 3., 4., 5., or 6. below applies.
If the representative files a fee petition, either on his/her own initiative or in response to an erroneous notice from the processing center, after a previously filed fee agreement was approved, refer to I-1-2-44(A.).
3. Respond to Prematurely Filed Fee Petition
When the information in the petition or the claim file indicates that services are continuing, ask the representative whether his/her services have ended.
If the representative is not providing services for which he/she plans to charge and collect a fee, prepare a report for the file and proceed with the evaluation unless 4. or 5. below applies.
If the representative is still providing services for which he/she plans to charge and collect a fee, take the following actions:
Prepare a letter to the representative explaining that:
we are returning the fee request because his/her services have not ended;
although we did not consider it, the representative may file a new request after services are complete, using the enclosed Form SSA-1560-U4 (Petition to Obtain Approval of a Fee for Representing a Claimant Before the Social Security Administration); and
Enclose both the prematurely filed fee petition and a blank SSA-1560-U4.
Send the letter to the representative and a copy to the claimant.
4. Provide a Copy of Petition When Necessary
Presume that the representative provided the claimant with a copy of the fee petition, unless there is evidence to the contrary.
Example: If the claimant's copy of the Form SSA-1560-U4 is still attached when the representative submits the petition to the decision maker and the claimant did not complete and sign the lower portion of the form showing he/she agrees with the fee amount requested, this would indicate that the claimant had not received a copy of the fee petition.
If you believe the representative did not provide the claimant with a copy of the fee petition, take the following actions.
Prepare a letter to the claimant explaining that we have enclosed a copy of his/her representative's fee request; that the claimant should let us know within 20 days if he/she disagrees with the fee requested or any information shown; and that we will not consider the request further until the claimant has had this opportunity to comment.
Enclose a copy of the fee petition and any attachments, and a self-addressed envelope.
Send the letter to the claimant and a copy to the representative.
Diary the case for 30 days to allow mailing time.
5. Develop as Necessary
Initiate any necessary development through direct contact with the representative.
Example: A representative files a fee petition requesting a fee for legal services in settling an estate, prosecuting an action in State court, and representing the claimant before SSA. You ask the representative to clarify what amount he/she is requesting for services provided in connection with the proceedings before SSA.
6. Provide Notice of Expected Delay
If you do not expect to respond within 60 days of receipt, advise the person who filed the fee petition. When appropriate, combine this status letter with a request for additional information.
Example: The claimant's legal guardian filed the fee petition requesting SSA to authorize a fee for representation. You plan to defer evaluating the petition until the guardian submits a copy of the State court's action.
B. 30-Day Diary Period Expires or Claimant's Comments Received
If the claimant submitted comments with the fee petition (e.g., claimant has signed the Form SSA-1560 indicating agreement with the requested fee), or if the 30-day diary period expires and no comments are received, the fee authorizer with jurisdiction over the fee petition must review the petition pursuant to the regulatory criteria and make a fee determination, subject to the $10,000 limit as set forth in I-1-2-6 B.2.