I-1-2-61.Fee Petition Administrative Review — General Policy

Last Update: 1/28/03 (Transmittal I-1-44)

A. Who May Request Review

Regulations 20 CFR 404.1720(d) and 416.1520(d) give the claimant, affected auxiliary beneficiary(ies) and the representative the right to request administrative review of the initial fee authorization. The request must be filed in writing with a Social Security Administration (SSA) office.

SSA does not conduct administrative review on its own motion under the fee petition process.

B. Time Limit for Requesting Review

A request for administrative review of a fee authorization under the fee petition process must be filed at one of SSA's offices within 30 days after the date of the notice of SSA's initial fee authorization.

If a request is filed more than 30 days after the date of the notice, the requestor must state in writing why the request was not filed on time. In such cases, SSA will conduct an administrative review only if it determines that there was good cause for not filing the request on time. (See 20 CFR 404.1720(d) and 416.1520(d) for guidance on evaluating good cause.)

C. Review Criteria

Administrative review involves an independent review of SSA's initial fee authorization. The reviewing official will review the determination made on the amount of a fee under the fee petition process if:

  • the claimant or affected auxiliary(ies) submits a timely request to reduce the fee; or

  • the representative (including any co-representative or co-counsel) submits a timely request to increase the fee.

The purpose of an administrative review is to decide whether the protested fee was based upon:

  • complete and accurate knowledge of the facts, and

  • proper application of the Act and regulations.

The reviewing official ordinarily modifies (i.e., increases or decreases) the initial fee, if:

  • the initial fee authorization was based upon a clear error of fact or law, or

  • new and material information is submitted to the reviewer.

The reviewing official will not modify the initial fee authorization:

  • solely because one of the parties has protested, or

  • merely to substitute the judgment of the reviewer for the judgment of the original authorizer.

D. Finality of Determination

A fee authorization made after an administrative review is final and binding. It is not subject to further administrative or judicial review. (See 20 CFR 404.903(f) and 416.1403(a)(6).)

E. Delegation of Authority for Conducting Administrative Review

Only an authorized SSA official who did not make the initial fee authorization can conduct the review. The reviewing official may authorize a representative's fee on administrative review without obtaining review or concurrence, regardless of the amount of the fee.

Jurisdiction to conduct administrative review under the fee petition process is determined by the component/official who made the initial fee authorization.

Official Who Made Initial Fee Authorization Official Who Has Authority to Conduct Administrative Review
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Regional Chief ALJ (RCALJ) who has jurisdiction over the claimant's servicing hearing office
RCALJ (either as a presiding ALJ or on a recommendation from a presiding ALJ) Deputy Chief ALJ
Deputy Chief ALJ (either as a presiding ALJ or on a recommendation from a presiding RCALJ) Chief ALJ
Attorney Fee Branch (AFB) Deputy Chair of the Appeals Council