TN 2 (09-10)
DI 33010.065 Representation of Claimant at the Disability Hearing Unit (DHU)
Representation of the claimant may occur at any time in the claims process. Therefore, DHU personnel should be familiar with the following information:
At the initial and reconsideration levels, the representative submits an SSA-1696-U4 (Appointment of Representative) to the field office (FO) for acknowledgement of the appointment. The Disability Determination Services (DDS) and the DHU do not place the SSA-1696-U4 in the case file, an SSA component does. Until SSA accepts and acknowledges the appointment, the representative is not recognized.
To ensure that representative information is properly handled when the DHU receives appointed representative information or fee related documents by mail or fax, follow the instructions in DI 31001.001B.1.
If the representative information indicates that the representative’s authority ended, refer to DI 33010.065C.6. in this section.
NOTE: The DHU does not have the authority to approve or disapprove fee agreements or authorize fees under the fee petition process.
1. Claimant expresses interest in being represented at DHU
Use the references in DI 33010.065A in this section, to explain who can be a representative, how to appoint a representative, the authority and responsibilities of a representative, and the fee regulations.
Avoid influencing the claimant’s decision regarding whether to appoint a representative.
If the DDS or DHU receives a request to obtain or establish representation, instruct the claimant to contact the servicing FO to assist in finding a representative and in completing the necessary forms to document the claimant’s file.
The servicing FO will provide the claimant with the following:
2. Representative not yet acknowledged by SSA attends DHU hearing with claimant
When a representative whose appointment SSA has not yet acknowledged attends a DHU hearing with the claimant, and the representative wants to review the file before the hearing begins, the Disability Hearing officer (DHO) does the following:
Explains to the representative and the claimant that the representative must submit a completed SSA-1696-U4 (Appointment of Representative) to the servicing FO if the representative has not done so already.
Advises the representative that the SSA-1696-U4 and other forms and information about representation are located on Social Security Online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/representation/.
Informs the representative and the claimant that the DHO does not have the authority to accept documentation to appoint a person as a representative in dealings with SSA. For more information about the FO’s acceptance of an appointment, see DI 31001.001B.4. and GN 03910.090C.
Explains to the claimant and the representative that until the FO acknowledges the appointment of a representative and notifies the DHU of its acceptance, the representative is an “undesignated individual” whose appointment SSA has not yet accepted. The claimant must give SSA permission to disclose information in his or her file to the “undesignated individual.”
Provides Form SSA-3288 (Consent for Release of Information) in GN 03305.999 and at Social Security Online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-3288.pdf.
Instructs the claimant to complete the SSA-3288, indicating that he or she authorizes the DHO to release information from the claimant’s file. The DHO takes the form before the “undesignated individual” can view the claimant’s file at the DHU hearing.
Refers to GN 03910.040B when the claimant appoints more than one representative.
3. Appointed representative asks DHU to deal directly with the claimant
When SSA acknowledges a representative's appointment, and he or she asks the DHU to deal directly with the claimant, take the following actions:
Obtain written confirmation from the representative that he or she wants the DHU to deal directly with the claimant;
Create an SSA-5002 (Report of Contact) and;
Record the following on a Report of Contact (RC):
The name and address of the representative;
A statement that the representative wants all or some of the contacts to be through the claimant;
Who engaged the representative; and
A statement that you advised the representative and claimant of the fee authorization and payment procedures.
Attach an SSA-1128 (Representative Involved) flag. See FO instructions in GN 03910.040H.7. and DI 31001.001A.5.
Annotate all evidence (including duplicative evidence) the representative submits to show, “Submitted by (full name) on (date),” and place in the claims folder.
Use an RC to briefly describe telephone and personal contacts with the representative, or services the representative performed.
NOTE: If there is more than one entry on the RC, date each entry.
Place copies of all correspondence in the claims folder.
Annotate the SSA-2640 (Disability Hearing Case) to show that there is an appointed representative.
SSA generally assumes that a representative will charge a fee for services unless the representative waives the fee (e.g., when completing the SSA-1696-U4). If a representative works with a legal services organization known to provide legal services free of charge, the FO or Processing Center may contact the representative to determine whether the representative wishes to waive the fee.
Forward any fee petition erroneously sent to the DHU so that it can be associated with the claims folder. For routing instructions, see GN 03930.025.
GN 03920.000, Administering Representatives Fees Provisions
GN 03930.000, Fee Authorization Under the Fee Petition Process
GN 03940.000, Fee Authorization Under the Fee Agreement Process
GN 03920.020C, Procedure for legal services organizations for FO and PC
6. Representative’s authority ends
For information on when a representative’s authority ends, see GN 03910.060.
If the claimant notifies the DHU that he or she has revoked the representative’s authority or appointment, or the representative notifies the DHU that the representative has withdrawn from the case, follow DI 31001.001B.3. and GN 03910.040C.