(a)General. A representative may charge and receive a fee for his or her services as a representative only as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.
(b)Charging and receiving a fee.
(1) The representative must file a written request with us before he or she may charge or receive a fee for his or her services.
(2) We decide the amount of the fee, if any, a representative may charge or receive.
(3) Subject to paragraph (e) of this section, a representative must not charge or receive any fee unless we have authorized it, and a representative must not charge or receive any fee that is more than the amount we authorize.
(4) If your representative is an attorney or an eligible non-attorney, and you are entitled to past-due benefits, we will pay the authorized fee, or a part of the authorized fee, directly to the attorney or eligible non-attorney out of the past-due benefits, subject to the limitations described in § 404.1730(b)(1). If the representative is a non-attorney who is ineligible to receive direct fee payment, we assume no responsibility for the payment of any fee that we have authorized.
(c)Notice of fee determination. We shall mail to both you and your representative at your last known address a written notice of what we decide about the fee. We shall state in the notice—
(1) The amount of the fee that is authorized;
(2) How we made that decision;
(3) Whether we are responsible for paying the fee from past-due benefits; and
(4) That within 30 days of the date of the notice, either you or your representative may request us to review the fee determination.
(d)Review of fee determination—
(1)Request filed on time. We will review the decision we made about a fee if either you or your representative files a written request for the review at one of our offices within 30 days after the date of the notice of the fee determination. Either you or your representative, whoever requests the review, shall mail a copy of the request to the other person. An authorized official of the Social Security Administration who did not take part in the fee determination being questioned will review the determination. This determination is not subject to further review. The official shall mail a written notice of the decision made on review both to you and to your representative at your last known address.
(2)Request not filed on time.
(i) If you or your representative requests a review of the decision we made about a fee, but does so more than 30 days after the date of the notice of the fee determination, whoever makes the request shall state in writing why it was not filed within the 30-day period. We will review the determination if we decide that there was good cause for not filing the request on time.
(ii) Some examples of good cause follow:
(A) Either you or your representative was seriously ill and the illness prevented you or your representative from contacting us in person or in writing.
(B) There was a death or serious illness in your family or in the family of your representative.
(C) Material records were destroyed by fire or other accidental cause.
(D) We gave you or your representative incorrect or incomplete information about the right to request review.
(E) You or your representative did not timely receive notice of the fee determination.
(F) You or your representative sent the request to another government agency in good faith within the 30-day period, and the request did not reach us until after the period had ended.
(3)Payment of fees. We assume no responsibility for the payment of a fee based on a revised determination if the request for administrative review was not filed on time.
(e)When we do not need to authorize a fee. We do not need to authorize a fee when:
(1) An entity or a Federal, State, county, or city government agency pays from its funds the representative fees and expenses and both of the following conditions apply:
(i) You and your auxiliary beneficiaries, if any, are not liable to pay a fee or any expenses, or any part thereof, directly or indirectly, to the representative or someone else; and
(ii) The representative submits to us a writing in the form and manner that we prescribe waiving the right to charge and collect a fee and any expenses from you and your auxiliary beneficiaries, if any, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part; or
(2) A court authorizes a fee for your representative based on the representative's actions as your legal guardian or a court-appointed representative.