The May 2005 issue of the Social Security Forum, published by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) has a helpful article about fee agreement language acceptable to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The article isn’t available online, so I’ll post it here.
Editor’s Note: Although SSA does not mandate the exact language that must be used in a fee agreement, the Agency does provide examples of permissible language. Sometimes, a slight change in the wording can change the meaning of a phrase enough to cause the agreement to be disapproved. If you are wondering what language SSA will find acceptable to allow the maximum fee to increase if applicable, the following examples from POMS GN 03920.000A will be useful.
NOTE 3: As provided in section 206(a)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act, the Commissioner has the authority to increase the limit, from time to time, provided that an increase does not at any time exceed the rate of increase in the primary insurance amounts since January 1, 1991.
- For fee agreements approved before February 1, 2002, the fee specified could not exceed the lesser of 25 percent of past-due benefits or $4,000.
- SSA will accept language in a fee agreement that would apply if the Commissioner increases the limit after the date of the agreement. In the examples below, if the decision maker approves the fee agreement on or after the date the Commissioner increases the limit, and the agreement meets all conditions of the fee agreement process and no exceptions apply, SSA will authorize a fee of the lesser of 25 percent or the increased cap limit:
EXAMPLE 3-1: If SSA favorably decides the claim, I will pay my representative a fee equal to the lesser of 25 percent of my past-due benefits or the dollar amount established pursuant to section 206(a)(2)(A), which currently $5,300, but may be increased from time to time by the Commissioner of Social Security.
EXAMPLE 3-2: If SSA favorably decides the claim, I will pay my representative a fee equal to the lesser of 25 percent of my past-due benefits or $5,300 (or such higher amount as the Commissioner of Social Security may prescribe pursuant to section 206(a)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act).
EXAMPLE 3-3: I will pay my representative a fee equal to the lesser of 25 percent of any past-due benefits from my claim or, if less, the maximum dollar amount allowed pursuant to section 206(a)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act, based on the date SSA approves my fee agreement.