The Fee Petition Process
A fee petition is a written statement signed by a claimant's representative requesting the fee the representative wants to charge and collect for services he or she provided in pursuing the claimant's benefit rights in proceedings before the Social Security Administration (SSA).
SSA presumes that the representative will either file a fee petition or waive his or her fee if the representative does not file a fee agreement before the date SSA makes the first favorable determination or decision (hereinafter, we generally refer to both as a "decision") the representative worked toward achieving.
A representative who elects to use the fee petition process generally files the petition after his or her services in the case have ended. Based on this petition, SSA will authorize a reasonable fee for the specific services provided.
If multiple representatives are involved and the representatives have elected to use the fee petition process, each representative who wants to charge and collect a fee for his or her services must file a separate fee petition. If a representative associates with another representative or co-counsel whom the claimant also appointed, an agreement between or among the two or more representatives about the fee for services does not control SSA's fee authorization.
A representative must file a fee petition to obtain SSA's authorization if any of the following applies:
- The representative and the claimant have no written fee agreement.
- The representative filed a fee agreement, which SSA did not approve.
- The representative filed a fee agreement, which was initially approved, but subsequently, a reviewing official reversed the approval.
- The representative filed a fee agreement which SSA approved and, subsequently, SSA disapproved that agreement because no past-due benefits resulted from the favorable determination or decision.
A representative may not file a fee petition for services in a claim if SSA has approved a fee agreement and has authorized a fee under that approved agreement. The fee agreement and the fee petition processes are not interchangeable.
A representative may petition for fee approval using the Form SSA-1560-U4, Petition to Obtain Approval of a Fee for Representing a Claimant before the Social Security Administration. A representative may also petition for fee approval by providing in writing, all of the following information:
- The dates his or her services began and ended;
- The specific services he or she provided;
- The amount of time spent in each type of service;
- The amount of the fee he or she wants to charge for the services;
- The amount of the fee he or she wants to request or charge for services provided in the same matter before any State or Federal court;
- The amount of money, if any, the representative received toward payment of the fee and has held in a trust or escrow account;
- The amount(s) and a list of any expenses the representative incurred for which he or she has been paid or expects to be paid; and
- A statement affirming that the representative has sent a copy of the petition and any attachments to the claimant.
SSA may request a representative who is not an attorney to furnish a description of the special qualifications which enabled him or her to provide the claimant with valuable help.
A representative who is a legal guardian, committee, conservator, or other State Court appointed representative must also furnish copies of:
- His or her fee request of the court;
- His or her accounting to the court; and
- Either the court's declination to order a fee, or the court's order(s) of fees for his or her services as a legal guardian during the same period in which the representative provided services in proceedings before SSA.
A representative may file a petition for fee approval only after he or she has completed providing services for the claimant or auxiliary beneficiary. A representative whose services have ended may file a fee petition before SSA effectuates a decision.
There is no time limit within which a representative must petition. However, to obtain direct payment of all or part of an authorized fee from withheld title II and/or title XVI past-due benefits, an attorney or non-attorney whom SSA has determined is eligible for direct payment should file the fee petition, or a written notice of intent to petition, within 60 days after the date of the award notice.
The representative must give the claimant a copy of the petition and any attachments before filing the original with the appropriate SSA office.
If the Representative uses the Form SSA-1560-U4, he or she should:
- Send the claimant a copy;
- File the original with the appropriate SSA office; and
- Retain a copy.
Although a representative may file a fee petition at any SSA office, he or she generally files the petition with the office shown below:
- If a court or the Appeals Council issued the decision, the representative sends the petition to:
Office of Appellate Operations
ATTN: Attorney Fee Branch
5107 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041-3255
- If an Administrative Law Judge issued the decision, the representative sends the petition to him or her using the hearing office address.
- In most other cases, the representative sends the petition to the processing center address that appears at the top right of the claimant's title II notices, or in a title XVI only case, to the servicing field office.