In certain types of cases adjudicated by the Department of Labor, attorneys or non-attorney representatives may or must file fee petitions. Special rules may apply depending on the case area. An attorney or representative representing a client before DOL, therefore, should become familiar with applicable procedural regulations.

For example, in Black Lung Benefits Act cases, a claimant may not be charged a fee for representation services unless otherwise approved under the regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 725.365. If benefits are awarded, either the employer or the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund will pay the attorney’s fees. The attorney must file a fee petition under 20 C.F.R. § 725.366. If a successful claimant was represented by a non-attorney representative and there is no employer liable for the payment of the benefits, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund will not pay fees or costs to lay representatives; therefore, the claimant would be liable for any fees owed.

In cases in which a fee petition is submitted to the presiding ALJ, attorneys and representatives must present evidence documenting the hours worked and the rates claimed. If the documentation of hours is inadequate, the award may be reduced.