TN 2 (12-11)
DI 31001.001 Claimant Representation
Social Security Act §§ 205(a) and 206 ;
20 CFR §§ 404.1700 - 404.1799 and 416.1500 - 404.1599
A. Appointed representative
An appointed representative represents the claimant in a pending matter before the agency. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes an appointed representative who is both designated by the claimant and meets the qualifications for an attorney (GN 03910.020B.1.) or non-attorney (GN 03910.020B.2.) representative. Once recognized by SSA, an appointed representative may, on behalf of the claimant:
obtain information about a claim to the same extent as the claimant,
make statements about facts and law, and
make any request or give any notice about our proceedings.
SSA does not require appointment of family or friends (e.g., spouse, friend, caseworker, relative) who just want to assist the claimant with simple things such as reading a notice or translating a document. However, the claimant must properly appoint anyone who will provide representational services, such as making statements about law and fact, speaking on behalf of the claimant before the agency, or appearing at a hearing.
SSA must recognize the claimant’s designee as the appointed representative. A representative payee is not the same as an appointed representative. A representative payee is the person, agency, organization, or institution selected by SSA to receive benefits on behalf of a beneficiary who we have determined is unable to manage or direct management of benefit payments in his or her interest.
1. Decision to appoint a representative
The decision to appoint a representative is for the claimant to make on his or her own. For information about who else may appoint a representative to act on the claimant’s behalf, see GN 03910.040A.
2. Claimant expresses interest in appointing a representative
If an unrepresented claimant is interested in appointing a representative, the field office (FO) provides the following information:
Publication SSA 05-10075, Your Right to Representation;
Form SSA-1696-U6, Appointment of Representative; and
a representative referral list.
NOTE: If the Disability Determination Services (DDS) receives a verbal inquiry from an unrepresented claimant about obtaining or establishing representation, inform him or her to contact the servicing FO.
3. Claimant requests appointment of representative
When a claimant requests representation, he or she must complete, date, and sign a notice of appointment and file it with SSA (i.e. Form SSA-1696-U6 or an equivalent written statement). The written notice must state the claimant’s intent and be signed by the claimant and non-attorney representatives. Attorneys are not required to sign notices of appointment.
SSA will recognize a proper appointment of a qualified representative and include the document in the claimant’s file. Only SSA components can accept a notice of appointment and place the Form SSA-1696, or an equivalent written notice, in the case file. This should occur only after recognizing the appointment.
4. Notice to representative
The Form SSA-L1697, Notice to Representative of Claimant Before the Social Security Administration, is SSA’s formal acknowledgement of the representative’s appointment.
completes and mails this notice to the representative;
sends a copy to the claimant; and
notifies the DDS of SSA’s acceptance of the appointment.
NOTE: The notice indicates that we will make all contacts with the representative rather than the claimant. If the representative requests that SSA deal directly with the claimant, see DI 31001.010B.1.
5. Flagging folders when an appointed representative is involved
Flag all folders involving an appointed representative. Use the Form SSA-1128, Representative Involved, to identify paper folders and material that involve an appointed representative.
Electronic folders: Add a flag to the folder (if there is not already a system-generated flag) by selecting the “View Details/Edit” field on the secondary toolbar that appears near the top of every tab in eView. Then, select “Representative Involved” from the drop-down list.
Paper folders: Attach the Form SSA-1128 to the outside lower right portion of the claims folder.
Forwarding paper documents for folder association: Attach the Form SSA-1128 to the documentation to indicate representative involvement.
B. Potential issues
Issues about representation may arise while the claimant’s case is at the DDS. Address any issues related to a claimant’s representation as outlined in this section.
1. DDS receives appointed representative information or fee-related documents in the mail or via fax
When the DDS receives appointed representative information (e.g. SSA-1696, SSA-1699 Registration for Appointed Representative Services Direct and Payment Information), or fee-related documents (e.g. SSA-1695, Identifying Information for Possible Direct Payment of Authorized Fees) in the mail or via fax, take the following steps:
Return the forms to the sender along with a copy of the “Dear Colleague” letter. See DI 31001.001D in this section. The DDS should never fax Form SSA-1695 into the electronic folder.
CAUTION: In the case of an appointment, do not enter a representative’s information into the DDS Legacy system or attach a representative involved flag to the case before receiving notification of the appointment from the FO (via an Update after Transfer (UAT) or a Form SSA-5002, Report of Contact) or Hearing Office (via an Assistance Request (AR) or Report of Contact).
Document any changes to the claimant’s contact information (i.e., change of address or new phone number) received from the claimant or a recognized appointed representative, via an AR to the FO.
Send the AR to the FO requesting an update of the claimant’s contact information. The FO will enter the information into the mainframe and do a UAT to the DDS. For electronic cases, do not manually enter the changes into the DDS Legacy system. For paper cases, the FO returns the completed form (if applicable) or provides a Report of Contact describing the update. The DDS then enters the information into the Legacy system.
2. File unclear regarding representation
If the DDS cannot determine if anyone is representing the claimant:
telephone the FO for clarification; and
record the FO’s response on a Report of Contact for inclusion in the file.
3. DDS received information about termination of appointment
The claimant may revoke an appointment of representation, or the representative may withdraw from representing the claimant, at any time. Although SSA does not have a standard form for this purpose, the revocation or withdrawal must be in writing, signed by the claimant or representative respectively, and filed with SSA. The representative’s authority continues until the FO receives notification of revocation or withdrawal. When the FO receives a notice of revocation or withdrawal, the DDS will receive an alert via UAT. For paper cases, the FO will forward the statement for placement in the case file – if the DDS did not provide the statement.
a. Oral notification
If the claimant or the representative tells the DDS orally (e.g., telephone or voice message) the representative’s authority ended, take the following steps:
Inform the claimant or representative to provide a signed and dated written statement to the servicing field office confirming revocation or withdrawal.
Document the claims folder with a Report of Contact detailing the requested termination.
b. Written notification
If the DDS receives written notification, signed by the claimant or representative, that the representative’s authority ended, take the following steps:
Document the claims folder with a Report of Contact detailing the requested termination of representation.
Include the written statement in the file. For paper cases, send a copy of the statement to the FO.
Document the revocation or withdrawal via an AR to the FO.
4. Undesignated person communicates with DDS
If a representative whose appointment has not yet been recognized or recorded by SSA makes contact with the DDS, take the following steps:
Take information from the undesignated person making contact.
Prior to FO verification, do not discuss any aspect of the claim or assume the undesignated person is the appointed representative.
Prepare a Report of Contact for inclusion in the file describing the circumstance of the call, showing the person’s name, phone number, address, and record the circumstances of the call. Ensure that the Report of Contact is included in the file.
Document the contact via an AR to the FO.
Send the AR to the FO notifying them of the contact and Report of Contact. For paper cases, send a copy of the contact to the FO.
5. Questions on fees for representation
Refer questions regarding fees for representation to the FO.
C. Case at the hearing level
When a case is at the hearing level or above, refer any inquiries to the hearing office (HO) or the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO), as appropriate. HO and OAO employees cannot enter appointment information into the Modernized Claims System (MCS), the Modernized Supplemental Security Income Claims System (MSSICS), or the Electronic Disability Collect System (EDCS). At the hearing level or above components must request FO assistance to make these entries. Otherwise, the FO and DDS have no knowledge of the appointment. Additionally, without recognition in these systems, the representative does not receive copies of claim notices and the omission may delay any possible fee payment. Use the following procedures when the claim is pending at the hearing level or above:
1. Process when claim pending at the HO
When the HO receives a Form SSA-1695, the HO mails the form to the FO. It is not permissible to scan the form into the Certified Electronic Folder (CEF) or fax it to the FO, because it contains the representative’s PII.
When the HO receives and accepts an appointment of representative:
the HO enters the representative's information into the Case Processing and Management System (CPMS) and scans the appointment and any fee agreement (not the SSA-1695) into the CEF.
the HO informs the FO of the appointment for input into MCS, MSSICS, or EDCS. As the claim progresses at the hearing level, the HO also notifies the FO, via an AR, of changes to representation or claimant contact information (i.e., change of address or new phone number).
if, for some reason, the appointed representative information or claimant contact information is not timely inputted and, as a result, the FO does not perform a UAT, the DDS will be unaware of the changes. If the HO requests the DDS to schedule a consultative examination, the HO includes the representative’s information or the claimant’s contact information with the AR sent to DDS. The HO also sends another AR to the FO asking that they input the information into MCS, MSSICS, or EDCS.
2. Process when claim pending with OAO
When OAO receives a Form SSA-1695, OAO mails the form to the FO. It is not permissible to scan the form into the CEF or fax it to the FO, because it contains the representative’s PII.
When OAO receives and accepts an appointment of representative:
OAO enters the representative’s information into the Appeals Review Processing System (ARPS) and scans the appointment and any fee agreement into the CEF.
OAO faxes a copy of the appointment to the servicing FO to alert the FO of the need for input into MCS, MSSICS, or EDCS.
NOTE: OAO uses ARPS, not CPMS, for case processing. ARPS does not contain an automated assistance request functionality that covers claimant or representative changes.
D. Exhibit - DDS “Dear Colleague” letter
Dear (Mr. or Ms.) (Last Name):
We are returning the enclosed documents to you because the Disability Determination Services (DDS) cannot accept appointment or fee-related documents or forms. You must send these documents directly to the appropriate servicing Social Security Administration (SSA) office for processing. To locate the servicing office, please use the “Locate a Social Security office” link on SSA’s website: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/.
The DDS is not authorized to accept documents that relate to appointment of a representative or representative’s fees. Therefore, all these documents must be filed directly with an SSA office and not with a DDS office. We will continue to process the claimant’s application without acknowledging a representative until SSA has received and accepted the appointment.
NOTE: Notices and correspondence will not be sent to a representative, and no past-due fees for services will be withheld for possible direct payment of fees for services, until proper appointment is made through the SSA office.
To avoid any potential delays in processing the appointment or other documents, please submit the notice of appointment documentation directly to the servicing SSA office as soon as possible. For more information about representing claimants, visit the “Representing Social Security Claimants” page on SSA’s website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/representation.
Thank you for your cooperation.