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Information for Attorneys and Representatives:

Black Lung Cases

The regulations governing Black Lung Benefits Act claims provide that a qualified attorney need not file a notice of appearance, but may submit a written declaration (or oral declaration at the formal hearing) that s/he is authorized to represent the party. 20 C.F.R. § 725.362(a) (2001).

A representative must be qualified under 20 C.F.R. § 725.363. 20 C.F.R. § 725.362(a). If an attorney, the representative must be in good standing; admitted to practice before a court of a state, territory, district, or insular possession, or before the Supreme Court of the United States or other federal court; and is not, pursuant to any provision of law, prohibited from acting as a representative. 20 C.F.R. § 725.362(a) (2000) and (2001).

For a representative who is not an attorney, s/he may be appointed as a representative so long as that person is not, pursuant to any provision of law, prohibited from acting as a representative. 20 C.F.R. § 725.363 (2000) and (2001).

In Black Lung Benefits Act cases, a claimant may not be charged a fee by an attorney unless black lung benefits are awarded. 20 C.F.R. §725.365. If the benefits are awarded, attorney's fees are paid by the employer or the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. 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, and the claimant is liable for any fees owed.

For more information, see generally Judges' Benchbook of the Black Lung Benefits Act (OALJ 2003), Chapter 27, Representative's Fees and Representation Issue; see also Forms: Application for Approval of a Representative's Fee In a Black Lung Claim Proceeding Conducted by The U.S. Department of Labor.

See also 20 C.F.R. § 802.202 (Entry of appearance before the BRB)