TN 6 (04-12)
GN 03970.011 Unqualified Non-Attorney and Attorney Representatives
Social Security Act Secs. 206(a), and 1631(d)(2), and
20 CFR 404.1745 and 416.1545
A. Policy for who is an unqualified non-attorney
The Social Security Administration (SSA) may refuse to recognize any non-attorney who is:
not generally known to have a good character and reputation;
not capable of giving valuable help to claimants in connection with their pending actions;
disqualified or suspended from acting as a representative before SSA; or
prohibited by any law from acting as a representative.
Evidence of a lack of good character and reputation may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
conviction of a felony;
conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude;
conviction of any crime under the Social Security Act;
civil monetary liability in any matter involving the Social Security Act;
disbarment or suspension from any court or bar based on misconduct (in those situations where the non-attorney is a former attorney);
disqualification or suspension, based on misconduct, from participating in any Federal program or appearing before any Federal agency;
finding by SSA or a court that as a representative payee, the person misused benefit payments;
debarment from acting as a contractor with any Federal or State agency;
revocation of any professional license issued by a State or local government; or
acceptance of direct fee payment by SSA for representational services when the representative knows he or she is not eligible for such direct payment.
NOTE: If you suspect that a non-attorney does not meet the criteria described above for SSA to recognize the individual as a representative, you must still process the appointment if you are aware that the individual has represented claimants before SSA in the past. You should immediately refer the individual to the Office of General Council (OGC) under the procedures for referrals of suspected fee violations, possible fee violations, and non-fee violations in GN 03970.017.
If you suspect that a non-attorney does not meet the criteria above for SSA to recognize the individual as a representative, and you believe that he or she has never represented claimants before SSA in the past, you should attempt to confirm that the individual has never represented claimants in the past. If you confirm that SSA has never recognized the individual as an appointed representative in the past and you still suspect that the individual does not meet the criteria to be recognized as a representative, you should delay processing the appointment and immediately contact the OGC office in your region. For advice on how to proceed, see the procedures for suspected criminal violation referrals in GN 03970.016B.
B. Policy for who is an unqualified attorney
SSA may refuse to recognize or may disqualify an attorney due to his or her:
disbarment or suspension from any court or bar based on misconduct; or
disqualification or suspension from participating in any Federal program or appearing before any Federal agency based on misconduct.
NOTE: If you suspect that an attorney who is attempting to be appointed to represent a claimant fits within either of the two categories described above, you should still process the appointment and immediately refer the individual to OGC under the procedures described in GN 03970.017.