TN 6 (04-12)

GN 03970.030 Action to Suspend, Disqualify, or Withdraw Charges Against a Representative by the Office of the General Counsel


Social Security Act 205 , 206 , 208 , 1106 , 1631(d)(2) ,

Regulations 20 CFR 404.1740 through 404.1799 and 20 CFR 416.1540 through 416.1599

A. Introduction to General Counsel’s sanction authority

On November 15, 2006, the Commissioner delegated to the General Counsel the authority to initiate, withdraw, and settle representative sanction cases against claimants’ representatives. The General Counsel can also redelegate this authority within the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). Since November 15, 2006, the Representative Conduct and Civil Rights Division of OGC’s Office of General Law (OGL) handled all representative sanction cases. However, in February 2008, OGC’s ten Offices of the Regional Chief Counsels (RCC) began participating in the workload.

With respect to the procedures described in this section, the term “General Counsel” also includes any authorized designees of the General Counsel.

B. Policy for OGC’s notification to a representative of charges and proposed sanctions

The General Counsel has authority to initiate sanction proceedings against a representative. OGC prepares a notice of charges and proposed sanctions against the representative. If the General Counsel signs the charges, OGC serves this notice on the representative via certified mail, return-receipt-requested, to the representative’s last known address. The notice advises the representative to file an answer with OGC stating why he or she should not be suspended or disqualified from acting as a representative before the Social Security Administration (SSA) and informs the representative that failure to respond in writing will preclude him or her from presenting evidence during any sanctions proceedings.

C. Policy for representative’s answer

The representative's answer must be in writing, signed under oath (or affirmation), and filed within 30 days from the date the notice was mailed or delivered personally to the representative. The representative may request an extension to file an answer and present good cause as to why he or she needs the extension. Upon a finding of good cause, the General Counsel may extend the representative’s time for filing an answer. The representative must file the answer with OGC at the address indicated in the notice. If the representative fails to file an answer, files a late answer without good cause, or files a defective answer, he or she will not have the right to present evidence at a hearing. However, the hearing officer may permit the representative to present a statement about the sufficiency of the evidence or the validity of the proceedings.

D. Policy for withdrawal by OGC of charges prior to the hearing

If the representative's answer or the available evidence establishes to the satisfaction of the General Counsel that the representative should not be suspended or disqualified from acting as a representative before the SSA, the General Counsel may withdraw the charges. OGC mails the notice of withdrawal of the charges to the representative at his or her last known address.

E. Policy for OGC’s action initiating a hearing on the violation

If OGC does not receive an answer within the time allowed, or if the General Counsel does not withdraw the charges, the General Counsel will ask the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, to designate an Administrative Law Judge to serve as the hearing officer to adjudicate the case.

F. Policy for OGC’s action when the representative accepts the sanction

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