Subject: Representative Fees
This transmittal updates the entire Representative Fees chapter to include all legislative changes, policy statements and procedures issued on the subject since February 1993. It incorporates and obsoletes Temporary Instruction (TI) I-5-1-9, Representative Fee Approval Process, issued on September 9, 1992, and revised on February 5, 1999. In addition, it incorporates the policy and those procedures relevant to processing fees at the hearing and Appeals Council levels, from EM-00005, Implementation of Legislative Changes-Direct Payment of Authorized Fees to Attorneys, and EM-02010, Implementation of Increased Maximum Dollar Limit in the Fee Agreement Process and Increased Fee Authorization Limits. As appropriate, references to more recently developed tools, such as SSA OnLine and the Online Notice Retrieval System, are included.
Sections I-1-2-1 through I-1-2-10 provide an overview of the representative fee processes and cover policy and procedures that apply to both fee agreements and fee petitions. Topics not previously addressed in HALLEX include bankruptcy (I-1-2-03C.), Medicare cases (I-1-2-5), past-due benefits (I-1-2-7), erroneous direct payment and assessment (I-1-2-10D.), and the user fee (I-1-2-9A.).
Sections I-1-2-11 through I-1-2-49 provide policy and procedures applicable to the fee agreement and the fee agreement administrative review processes. In addition to the guidance incorporated from TI 1-5-1-9, these sections address the effect of a subsequent decision on a fee agreement (I-1-2-14), two-tiered fee agreements (I-1-2-15), and the $5,300 maximum amount that became effective for fee agreements approved on or after February 1, 2002. The fee agreement administrative review process has been revised to provide for review of both the approval and disapproval of a fee agreement (I-1-2-41). In addition, the limitation on an ALJ's authority on administrative review to finally authorize a fee up to and including $7,000 has been eliminated (I-1-2-44B.). Sample notices have been included for a variety of situations that arise in processing fee agreements and administrative review requests.
Sections I-1-2-51 through I-1-2-65 provide policy and procedures applicable to the fee petition process and to the fee petition administrative review process. These sections update guidance previously provided in HALLEX I-1-2-1 through I-1-2-50. In 2002, the processing centers reduced the diary period for follow-up on an authorized fee petition and began directing the follow-up request to a specific hearing office contact. These changes are incorporated (I- 1-2-55). Procedures for documenting the fee rationale now include completion of Form SSA-1178 (Evaluation of Fee Petition for Representation) (I-1-2-57E.).
Other policy or procedural changes include:
Expanded use of the processing centers' paperless fax numbers to transmit information about and determinations on fee petition authorizations and fee agreement and fee petition administrative review actions (I-1-2-3, I-1-2-21, I-1-2-32, I-1-2-43, I-1-2-44, I-1-2-49, I-1-2-58, and I-1-2-62).
Assigning the Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge (RCALJ) who has jurisdiction over the claimant's servicing hearing office authority:
to conduct administrative review of the fee an ALJ authorized based on a fee petition (I-1-2-61E.);
to conduct administrative review if the ALJ disapproves the fee agreement and the claimant or representative requests administrative review (I-1-2- 42B.); and
to review the fee authorized based on an approved fee agreement when the ALJ who approved the agreement requests administrative review (I-1-2-44B.).
Date: January 28, 2003