I-1-2-8.Trust or Escrow Accounts

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

Pursuant to Social Security Ruling SSR 82-39, a representative may establish a trust or escrow account to ensure the payment of all or part of his/her fee, provided the following conditions are met:

  • the claimant willingly enters into the trust or escrow agreement and willingly deposits the money in the trust or escrow account;

  • none of the money in the account is paid to the representative unless and until the Social Security Administration (SSA) has authorized a fee and then only in an amount up to, but not exceeding, the authorized fee; and

  • the representative promptly returns to the claimant any funds in the account in excess of the authorized fee.

Accordingly, a representative may establish a general trust or escrow account for funds that he/she receives from one or more claimants, and thus ensure at least partial payment of his/her fee after SSA authorizes it. If a claimant agrees to deposit money into a trust or escrow account at his/her representative's request,

  • the representative must disclose the amount of money held in the trust or escrow account at the time he/she files a fee request, and

  • the representative may not pay funds held in a trust or escrow account to himself/herself until he/she receives notice of the authorized fee amount.

SSA will not honor a request to directly deposit a claimant's first check or any other monies directly into a trust or escrow account or to any account that is not the claimant's. (Refer to § 207 of the Social Security Act).

Refer to POMS GN 03920.025 C. for information on how funds in a trust or escrow account affect the amount SSA withholds for direct payment to an attorney representative and the amount of direct payment an attorney receives.