TN 10 (08-10)
GN 03910.050 Contacting a Represented Claimant
If a claimant appoints a representative, the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes all contacts in connection with that claim or post-entitlement (PE) issue through, or with the permission of, the appointed representative. However, SSA may contact the claimant directly if:
the representative asks SSA to deal directly with the claimant;
the claimant alleging blindness or a visual impairment elects to receive notices by first class mail with a follow-up telephone call from SSA to read the notices (see NL 01001.000);
there is an indication that a representative's appointment may have expired, but the information in SSA’s records is unclear or insufficient (see GN 03910.060A.);
the reason for the contact involves a possible violation by the representative;
SSA's records indicate that the claimant is represented, but there is insufficient or conflicting information about the claimant's representative (EXAMPLE: The claimant appointed two representatives at different times and the representatives do not appear to be working together or to be aware of each other’s activities. SSA may contact the claimant directly to clarify the situation.)
NOTE: When communicating in writing with a represented claimant during the adjudication process, we send claim development matters (e.g., a written request for specific evidence) to the (appointed) principal representative and a copy to the claimant. We send notices of initial determinations and decisions to the claimant and a copy to the principal representative. In communications related to authorized fees, we send the notice to the recipient and a copy to the claimant when appropriate.
1. General information for contacting a represented claimant
From the time a claimant appoints a representative until the representative's authority expires (see GN 03910.060), SSA staff must document all contacts with the claimant's representative regarding any claim development matter or PE issue, whether initiated by the representative or SSA. Update the file with a:
copy of any notice or contact in writing;
Report of Contact (RC) recording the in-person or telephone contact. Fax a copy of the RC to eView if the file is electronic. If this is a paper folder and you do not have the claim file, send a copy of the written contact or the RC, to the component where the claim file is located after faxing the documentation into Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRED).
note on the claims development screen, if available, with the date and a brief description of the contact, such as “requested claimant to sign 827.”
2. Representative asks SSA to contact the claimant directly
If the representative requests that SSA contact the claimant directly in claim-related matters, take the following actions:
Document the RPOC screen in MCS or the DROC screen in MSSICS with language that clearly indicates that the representative wants SSA to contact the claimant directly.
Fax a copy of the RC into the electronic folder to notify DDS or ODAR about this information. For paper cases, forward the RC to the appropriate component.
For eDib electronic folder cases, add the following message per DI 81005.040, “Representative involved – prefers direct contact with claimant.”
Contact the claimant directly in claim-related matters.
Send copies of written contacts with the claimant to the representative.
If the representative requests that SSA contact the claimant directly in PE matters, take the following actions:
Complete an RC or DROC, in MSSICS cases, with language that clearly indicates that the representative wants SSA to contact the claimant directly and indicating the PE issue the representative is involved in.
Document the Special Message field of the MBR or SSID with language that indicates the representative wants SSA to contact the claimant directly and indicating the PE issue the representative is involved in.
Fax a copy of the RC or DROC into eView, if the case is fully electronic, or NDRED, if the case is paper.
Contact the claimant directly in the PE matter
Send copies of written contacts with the claimant to the representative
3. Contacting a claimant to read a notice when the claimant elects the Special Notice Option (SNO)
If a claimant who is alleging blindness or a visual impairment is represented and elects to receive follow up telephone calls from SSA to read the notices, call the claimant directly within five business days of the date of the notice, and assist the claimant with any questions he or she may ask.
IMPORTANT: Do not initiate requests for information, or ask additional questions, unless the representative gave SSA permission to communicate directly with the claimant.
EXAMPLE: An SSA employee calls to read a notice to a blind or visually impaired claimant and discovers the claimant also needs to submit additional evidence, such as proof of wages. The SSA employee should not ask for this additional information during this contact. Instead, the employee should contact the representative to obtain the information, or ask permission to call the claimant directly. Otherwise, the employee should make the request in writing.