The Social Security Administration (SSA) must authorize any fees payable for services performed by an appointed claimant representative. Appointed claimant representatives may seek the Agency’s authorization for their fee by following one of two alternative and mutually exclusive processes: (1) a fee agreement filed before a favorable decision is rendered or (2) a fee petition that is generally filed when services have ended.
Based on the information submitted with the fee petition, such as hours worked and services provided, SSA will authorize a reasonable fee. A claimant representative may request that the Agency pay the authorized fee out of a claimant’s past-due benefits if the claimant representative is an attorney or a non-attorney who has met certain prerequisites. Authorized fee amounts that are not available from past-due benefits must be collected from the claimant.
The objective of this report was to determine whether claimant representative fee petition payments were (1) authorized by required parties, (2) paid in the appropriate amount, (3) supported by sufficient evidence, and (4) tracked by management.