Does the Social Security Administration regulate expenses?
Expenses are not included in fees authorized by SSA. HALLEX I-1-2-5(B) provides that “SSA is not involved in authorizing the amount of out-of-pocket expenses a representative collects. Out-of-pocket expenses are expenses a representative incurs, for which he/she has been paid or expects to be paid. Out-of-pocket expenses include, but are not limited to, the cost of obtaining copies of doctor or hospital reports and a birth and/or death certificate. Therefore, the fee SSA authorizes does not include payment for out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses are matters for the representative and claimant to settle.”
Therefore, inclusion of language in the fee agreement regarding the claimant’s obligation to repay a representative’s out-of-pocket expenses will not cause the agreement to be disapproved under the fee agreement process. HALLEX I-1-2-12(C)(2). And many if not most attorneys’ fee agreements provide that claimants must repay out-of-pocket expenses whether there is a favorable outcome or not.
I have a contrary view and require repayment of expenses only if a client is awarded benefits. All claimants are out of work and most go through significant financial hardship during the appeal process. If they receive no financial benefit from my representation, I feel it is improper to request repayment of expenses.