Identification Number:
GN 03910 TN 14
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:ORDP ODP
Title:Representation of Claimants
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part GN – General
Chapter 039 – Representation and Representative's Fee
Subchapter 10 – Representation of Claimants
Transmittal No. 14, 03/23/2020

Audience

PSC: BA, CA, CS, DE, DEC, DS, ICDS, IES, ILPDS, IPDS, ISRA, PETE, RECONR, SCPS, TSA, TST;
OCO-OEIO: BIES, CAQCR, CR, PETL, RECONR, RECOVR;
OCO-ODO: BTE, CR, CST, CTE, CTE TE, DS, PETE, PETL, RECOVR, RECOVTA;
ODD-DDS: DHU;
FO/TSC: CS, CS TII, CS TXVI, CSR, CTE, FR, OA, OS, RR, TA, TSC-CSR;

Originating Component

ODP

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

 

Summary of Changes

GN 03910.025 Authority of Appointed Representatives

 

GN 03910.030 Advising Claimants About Their Right to Representation

 

GN 03910.040 Appointment of a Representative

 

GN 03910.050 Contacting a Represented Claimant

 

GN 03910.060 When a Representative's Appointment Ends

 

GN 03910.025 Authority of Appointed Representatives

A. Scope of authority of appointed representatives

An appointed representative can act on the claimant's behalf with us on a pending claim, matter, or issue from the time the appointment begins until an event ends the representative's appointment. See GN 03910.001B for definition of a "pending claim, matter, or issue," and GN 03910.060B for information about events that end a representative's appointment.

An appointed representative may, on behalf of the claimant:

  • obtain information about the pending claim, matter, or issue that we would generally provide to the claimant such as additional evidence, a consultative examination report submitted to the record, or our determinations or decisions regarding the claim, matter, or issue;

  • be notified of any determinations or decisions regarding an affected auxiliary beneficiary, if any. See GN 03910.025C for information about representation of an affected auxiliary beneficiary and disclosure of his or her records;

  • submit evidence;

  • appear at non-medical appointments or interviews on behalf of a claimant if he or she is unable to do so (e.g., claimant lives in a rural area and does not have easy access to transportation);

  • make statements about facts and laws at a hearing (however, as stated below, appointed representatives are not permitted to testify in place of the claimant at a hearing); and

  • make any request or give any notice about the proceedings before us.

See GN 03316.125 for information about actions that an appointed representative may take on behalf of the claimant.

However, an appointed representative may not:

  • sign an application on behalf of the claimant (unless the representative is a proper applicant, as explained in GN 00204.003);

  • testify in place of the claimant at an administrative hearing;

  • change the claimant's personal information (e.g., first or last name or mailing address) or financial institution information (e.g., direct deposit bank account) in our records unless the appointed representative is otherwise qualified to do so (e.g., a parent of a minor child or a legal guardian). See GN 02401.000 on issuance of benefit checks to claimants;

  • consent to the disclosure of records on behalf of the claimant. See GN 03305.006 for information on third parties who may not consent to the disclosure of records on behalf of another individual; or

  • delegate the authority to represent the claimant or perform "representational services" to anyone whom the claimant has not appointed as a representative. See GN 03910.025B for examples of duties that an appointed representative can delegate to an associate.

B. Delegation of duties and disclosure of records

1. Delegation of duties

An appointed representative is not required to personally perform every task related to the representation of the claimant and may delegate specific duties to an associate. However, these associates must always act under the direction of the appointed representative. The appointed representative is responsible for his or her associates' actions while the appointment is in effect and during the representation of the claimant.

a. Examples of duties an appointed representative can delegate to an associate

  • developing the claimant's medical record; or

  • preparing written materials for an appeal.

b. Examples of duties an appointed representative cannot delegate to an associate

An appointed representative cannot delegate to an associate the performance of tasks that require taking legally significant actions about the claimant's case such as:

  • appearing at a hearing and presenting the claimant's case in proceedings before us;

  • cross-examining witnesses;

  • making legal arguments;

  • advising the claimant on our laws and policies; and

  • appealing any adverse determinations or decisions.

2. Disclosure of Records

Generally, once a representative is properly appointed, we may disclose the claimant's information to that representative without further written consent from the claimant. See GN 03316.125 for information on disclosure to appointed representatives.

However, we only disclose information from the claimant's records to an appointed representative's designated associate (e.g., clerks, partners, or parties under contractual arrangements) or organization if the claimant provides written consent via Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative) or another acceptable form, such as the Form SSA-3288 (Consent for Release of Information). See GN 03305.001 for information on disclosure with consent.

IMPORTANT: While we will disclose information to appointed representatives outside of the United States, we will not disclose information to these representative's designated associates located outside of the United States unless the claimant provides prior written consent naming the designated associate for whom disclosure is permitted.

a. Disclosure to an appointed representative's designated associate

An appointed representative's designated associate may obtain the claimant's information from us only if the claimant provided his or her written consent on the written notice of appointment (e.g., Form SSA-1696 or any other writing) or Form SSA-3288 or equivalent valid written consent document.

NOTE: The claimant does not need to specify the name of the designated associate on the Form SSA-1696. In order to provide the necessary consent on the Form SSA-1696, the claimant may select the appropriate box in Section 2 of the form that authorizes us to release information to designated associates of the appointed representative for administrative duties. If the claimant authorizes a designated associate to receive information, the designated associate does not need to file a separate Form SSA-3288 with us. Designated associates must be able to properly identify themselves and the appointed representative they are working for and provide the claimant's identifying information before we can disclose any information to them.

See GN 03305.003 for information on consent documents and GN 03305.025B for information on disclosure with consent to appointed representatives and designated associates.

b. Disclosure to an organization or entity

A claimant may, without appointing a representative, specifically consent to disclosure of his or her records or other information to an organization or entity by completing Form SSA-3288 or equivalent valid written consent document.

See GN 03305.025 for disclosure to legal aid groups and private law firms and GN 03305.999 for an exhibit of Form SSA-3288.

NOTE: While a claimant may consent to disclosure of his or her records to an entity (e.g., law firm or legal aid organization), he or she cannot appoint the entity as his or her representative because appointed representatives must be individuals and meet certain qualifications. See GN 03910.020 for information about qualifications for and recognition of representatives.

c. Further disclosure by appointed representatives, designated associates, or organizations is generally not permitted

An appointed representative, designated associate, or organization should not disclose the claimant's information further without prior written consent from the claimant.

Additionally, when multiple representatives are appointed to a pending claim, matter, or issue, all of the representatives must be appointed prior to the disclosure of the claimant's information to each other.

NOTE: Consent to the disclosure of medical records, particularly for children's records, is further limited. See GN 03305.003J, GN 03305.005C, and GN 03305.005D for information on consent for minor children, including disclosure of medical records. See GN 03340.035 for information on access to records.

3. Handling disclosure requests from appointed representatives, designated associates, or organizations

We handle disclosure requests from appointed representatives, designated associates, or organizations as follows:

a. Disclosure over the phone

We may disclose information to him or her over the phone with the claimant’s prior written consent. See GN 03305.002 on limitations on disclosure with consent and GN 03305.005 on who may consent to disclosure of records

To protect the claimant's privacy, you must:

  • carefully examine any request to disclose information from the claimant's record to the requester;

  • identify and authenticate the requester, as explained in GN 03380.005B. If the requester is the appointed representative’s designated associate, review the written notice of appointment to confirm that the claimant authorized disclosure to the requester (i.e., claimant checked the appropriate box in Section 2 of the Form SSA-1696);

  • review the record to confirm the representative's appointment is in effect. If the appointed representative is registered, look for his or her information in the Registration, Appointment and Services for Representatives (RASR) application; and

  • ask the appointed representative or designated associate to provide the identifying information of the claimant, as explained in GN 03380.005.

b. Disclosure in person

Prior to disclosing information about a claimant, you must:

  • identify and authenticate the requester, as explained in GN 03380.005B. If the requester is the appointed representative’s designated associate, review the written notice of appointment to confirm that the claimant authorized disclosure to the requester (i.e., claimant checked the appropriate box in Section 2 of the Form SSA-1696);

  • review the record to confirm the representative’s appointment is in effect;

  • review the notice of appointment to confirm that the claimant authorized disclosure to the appointed representative’s designated associate or review the record to verify that the claimant provided written consent to authorize disclosure to the organization; and

  • ask the appointed representative or designated associate to provide the identifying information of the claimant, as explained in GN 03380.005.

IMPORTANT: Never provide any of the claimant’s or affected auxiliary beneficiary's personally identifiable information (PII) either in-person or over the phone without following established disclosure policies.

4. Disclosure to attorneys who represent claimants at Federal court

An attorney who represents a claimant before a Federal court, but is not appointed to represent the claimant before the agency, has no authority to receive any information from our records unless the claimant also appoints this attorney as his or her representative before the agency or otherwise properly authorizes disclosure to this attorney (i.e., claimant signs a Form SSA-3288 or equivalent, valid written consent document that meets the requirements for disclosure, as explained in GN 03305.003D).

See GN 03305.001 for information on disclosure with consent.

5. Disclosure of queries and other sensitive material

We do not routinely disclose queries (e.g., system screen-shots of a claimant's past due benefits), sensitive information unrelated to the claim for which the representative has been appointed to handle such as tax return information in the record that the appointed representative does not have a need for when providing representational services to the claimant, administrative messages, and program operations manual system (POMS) or emergency messages designated by the agency as "sensitive."

See GN 03305.003C and GN 03305.004 for information on disclosure of queries.

C. Representation of a primary claimant's affected auxiliary beneficiary and disclosure of his or her records

Unless informed otherwise, we consider a primary claimant’s appointed representative to also represent the primary claimant’s affected auxiliary beneficiary (see Social Security Ruling (SSR) 68-61c). This ruling reflects the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hopkins v. Cohen, 390 U.S. 530 (1968), which established that the representative of a primary claimant is deemed to be acting on behalf of all other claimants in the case, and accordingly has a right to charge and collect fees for services from the affected auxiliary beneficiary's past-due benefits.

Consistent with SSR 68-61c, we will release to a primary claimant's appointed representative copies of any notices sent to the affected auxiliary beneficiary, including notices sent to the affected auxiliary beneficiary not living in the primary claimant's household, unless the affected auxiliary beneficiary:

  • appoints his or her own representative. See GN 03920.035B for information on withholding from an affected auxiliary beneficiary who is independently represented;

  • tells us in writing that he or she does not want to be represented by the primary claimant's representative and does not appoint his or her own representative; or

  • tells us that the primary claimant's appointed representative should not receive copies of the notices and does not appoint his or her own representative.

NOTE 1: In the second and third exceptions described above, we will explain to the affected auxiliary beneficiary about the withholding of his or her past-due benefits amount for payment of the primary claimant's appointed representative's authorized fee consistent with GN 03920.035D.

NOTE 2: If the affected auxiliary beneficiary does not appoint his or her own representative, we will create an appointment for each affected auxiliary beneficiary in RASR for a single purpose: payment of the primary claimant's representative. RASR will not release to the primary claimant's appointed representative any appointment-related notices about the affected auxiliary beneficiary.

See GN 03316.105 for information on disclosure without consent to primary claimant about the auxiliary beneficiary and GN 03316.110 for information on disclosure without consent to auxiliary claimant/beneficiaries about the primary claimant/beneficiary or number holder.

GN 03910.030 Advising Claimants About Their Right to Representation

A. Requirement to advise claimants about their right to representation

Sections 206(c) and 1631(d)(2)(D) of the Act require us to notify claimants who receive an adverse determination or decision of the options for obtaining a representative to help them in presenting their cases before us. The notice must also advise qualifying claimants of the availability of legal services organizations that provide free services.

We do not encourage or discourage representation, but we inform claimants of their right to be represented and provide a referral list of legal aid or other non-profit organizations that provide free legal services to any claimant who is unrepresented.

1. Advising claimants of their right to representation

We inform all claimants of their right to representation, if they choose, by an attorney or non-attorney. See GN 03910.020A for information about qualifications for attorney and non-attorney representatives.

If a claimant does not have the capacity to appoint a representative, another individual as described in GN 03910.040B.1 may do so on his or her behalf.

2. The representation referral list

We maintain a representation referral list of legal and non-legal services organizations in the claimant's local area. We provide this list to all unrepresented claimants who have received an adverse determination or decision at any level of our administrative process or who ask us about representation. The information we provide to claimants is neutral, as we do not recommend one organization over another. The organizations determine whether the claimant qualifies for any free services under their criteria.

The representation referral list of legal or non-legal services organizations includes:

  • local bar associations;

  • legal aid societies;

  • legal service organizations;

  • law schools with legal aid programs;

  • non-profit organizations; and

  • other community organizations that provide free services in the field office's (FO) service area.

NOTE: The organizations will be identified on the representation referral list in alphabetical order. The referral list also will note whether each organization provides free legal services, charges fees for services, or makes referrals to service providers who charge fees for services.

3. Criteria for being on the representation referral list

Organizations must meet certain criteria to be included on the representation referral list.

We include legal and non-legal services organizations that:

  • indicate a willingness to appear on the list;

  • are located in the FO's service area or close to the FO's service area. If it is a national organization, the organization must service the claimant’s area (e.g., non-profit organizations that have participating providers in the claimant’s service area even though they are not located near the claimant); and

  • do not make a profit from the referral, but may charge a small fee upfront to defray some expenses.

NOTE: The National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives (NOSSCR) and the National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR) are on the representation referral list because they expressed a willingness to appear on it and are able to assist claimants with referrals throughout the country.

However, we do not include:

  • individuals (whether attorney or non-attorney representatives); and

  • for-profit firms or organizations.

4. Maintaining and offering the representation referral list

The FO(s) and hearing offices (HO(s)) will:

  • maintain a current representation referral list by notifying each other of any changes to organizations' information (e.g., updated address, phone numbers, or additional representational services offered to their clients) or subsequent deletions or additions to the representation referral list;

  • regularly compare and update the list of organizations to ensure their respective representation referral lists are accurate;

  • offer the representation referral list to claimants who express an interest in being represented, who appeal an adverse determination at the initial level, or who are unrepresented and request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ);

  • not recommend one organization over another to claimants; and

  • keep copies of the representation referral list on-hand for distribution to claimants.

B. Responding to inquiries from claimants about the right to representation

Whether a claimant resides inside or outside of the United States, he or she has a right to representation.

Advise claimants who reside outside of the country that a representative must obtain our authorization to charge and collect a fee for services regardless of where the claimant or representative lives. See GN 03920.000 for information on representative's fees subject to our authorization.

Additionally, as noted in GN 03910.020, we recognize representatives who live outside of the United States to the extent they meet the qualifications explained in GN 03910.020A and complete the appointment process explained in GN 03910.040.

Responding to inquiries from claimants about the right to representation
Claimant contacts the FO about a pending claim, matter, or issue at the initial or reconsideration level Advise any unrepresented claimant who asks about getting representation or indicates that he or she is having or may have difficulty obtaining representation as follows:

1. What is representation

Explain to the claimant that he or she can be represented by a qualified individual, who will help the claimant and witnesses, if any, to do any of the following:

  • obtain evidence;

  • prepare for any proceedings before us;

  • develop the claimant's case if he or she wants additional assistance; or

  • present the claimant’s case at an administrative proceeding.

2. How to appoint a representative

Explain to the claimant how to appoint a representative (see GN 03910.040), the representative's scope of authority (see GN 03910.025), and authorization of representative fees (GN 03920.000).

3. Informational material about representation

Depending on the level of the administrative process at which the claim, matter, or issue is pending, provide the claimant with one or more of the following, as appropriate:

  • a copy of Publication No. 05-10075, Social Security and Your Right to Representation;

  • Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative) as an option to document the appointment; or

  • a copy of the representation referral list.

NOTE: We generally provide all of the aforementioned materials to a claimant. However, if the claimant contacts the FO about a pending claim, matter, or issue that is at the hearing level, it is not necessary to provide the claimant with a copy of the representation referral list. The HO will provide one with the acknowledgment letter for receipt of the claimant's request for a hearing before an ALJ. If the claimant specifically requests it, provide a copy of the representation referral list.

4. Documenting the record.

Document the claim file as to how you advised the claimant about his or her right to representation:

  • enter a Report of Contact (RPOC) in Modernized Claims System (MCS) or a Report of Contact (DROC) in Modernized SSI Claims System (MSSICS) indicating that you provided the information to the claimant; or

  • complete a Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact (ROC)) and fax it into the electronic folder for electronic claims or attach it to the paper folder for paper claims (include the date you provide this information).

NOTE 1: A report of contact (RPOC/DROC/ROC) is generally used to record communications.

NOTE 2: Refer to TC 01005.000 for information on releasing information from our records to appointed representatives and third parties.

Claimant contacts the Teleservice Center (TSC) about a pending claim , matter, or issue

When a claimant contacts the TSC and either asks about representation or indicates that he or she is having trouble obtaining representation, you should take the following actions if the claimant is unrepresented:
  • advise the claimant by following the instructions listed above in 1. through 4.;

  • send the claimant a copy of the SSA Publication No. 05-10075, Social Security And Your Right to Representation, and Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative) for use if the claimant decides to obtain representation; and

  • annotate any material prepared (e.g., a lead, protective filing, ROC) to indicate that you advised the claimant of his or her right to representation and that the FO should provide the representation referral list to the claimant.

NOTE 1: For the purposes of whether we can accept and process an appointment, a lead for potential benefits does not qualify as a pending claim, matter, or issue. See GN 00202.001 for information on leads and inquiries.

NOTE 2: Refer to TC 01005.000 for information on releasing information from our records to appointed representatives and third-parties.

Claimant contacts the HO about a pending claim

The HO routinely provides a copy of the representation referral list to an unrepresented claimant when acknowledging receipt of the claimant's request for hearing. However, you may also give or send to the claimant, if available:

  • a copy of the SSA Publication No. 05-10075, Social Security And Your Right to Representation; and

  • Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative) for use if the claimant decides to obtain representation.

NOTE: If these documents are not available, you may refer the claimant to the FO or TSC to obtain them.

GN 03910.040 Appointment of a Representative

A. How to appoint a representative

To appoint a representative, our regulations in 20 CFR 404.1707 and 416.1507 require that:

  • the claimant sign a written notice that identifies the individual and reflects the claimant's intent to be represented by that individual in dealings before us;

  • the non-attorney representative sign the written notice reflecting his or her intent to accept the appointment (an attorney does not have to sign this written notice); and

  • the written notice be filed at a field office (FO), a hearing office (HO), or with the Appeals Council (AC).

EXCEPTION: If we receive a written inquiry from an official of a foreign consulate or embassy on behalf of a claimant outside the United States, we will consider that the official is authorized to act as the claimant's representative without receiving an additional written notice of appointment. In this situation:

  • include the official's inquiry in the record in place of a written notice of appointment; and

  • process the official's appointment, as explained in GN 03910.040D.

1. The claimant's signature

A claimant must sign a written notice of appointment.

  • The claimant's signature must be in ink. We do not accept signatures generated from electronic software programs (e.g., DocuSign or HelloSign) or rubber-stamped signatures from claimants on written notices of appointment.

  • Return a notice of appointment if the claimant's signature is electronic.

NOTE: If a claimant cannot sign or can only mark an “X” on the written notice of appointment, we will accept the written notice if (1) the claimant marks the written notice below the requested information, (2) the claimant dates the written notice, and (3) two witnesses who do not stand to gain anything from the representative's appointment sign the written notice of appointment and provide their full mailing addresses. See GN 03305.003D for information on signature requirements on consent documents.

2. The non-attorney representative's signature

Although we only require a non-attorney representative to sign the written notice of appointment, we strongly encourage all representatives, including attorneys, to sign the written notice. By signing the notice, the representatives agree with the attestations, certify that they meet the required qualifications, and acknowledge that they will abide by the rules and regulations concerning fees. Representatives may use a rubber stamp or electronic method to sign the notice. We will accept the representative’s signature unless there is reason to doubt his or her intent to accept the appointment.

  • Attorneys: If an attorney does not sign the written notice of appointment and the claimant signs it consistent with GN 03910.040A.1, we will accept the notice. We will not return the written notice to obtain the attorney's signature.

  • Non-attorneys: If a non-attorney does not sign the written notice of appointment, we will not accept it even if the claimant has signed it. We will return the written notice of appointment unprocessed or with a request to amend or correct to the party who submitted it.

3. Filing the written notice of appointment

The claimant files the written notice of appointment at one of our field offices at the initial and reconsideration levels; with an administrative law judge (ALJ) if the claimant requested a hearing; or with the AC if the claimant requested a review of the ALJ's decision. Once filed, we can process the written notice of appointment as explained in GN 03910.040D.

See GN 03910.001D for the definition of "written notice of appointment."

B. Written notice of appointment

1. Who can appoint a representative

Only the following individuals can appoint a representative:

  • the claimant;

  • any affected auxiliary beneficiary (for his or her own representation);

  • a parent of a claimant under age 18, except when we determine that the claimant will be his or her own payee. In this case, the claimant may appoint and revoke his or her representative. See GN 00502.070 for information on developing capability - children; or

  • a legal guardian for a legally incompetent claimant. See GN 00502.023 for information on legal evidence of incompetency and GN 00502.139 for information on guardianship.

Court-appointed guardians, also known as "guardians ad litem," can appoint a representative or revoke an appointment on behalf of a claimant. In some states, a court may appoint a "legal custodian" in lieu or a "legal guardian" when parental rights are severed. We will consider these court-appointed custodians as legal guardians consistent with state law and on a case-by-case basis.

2. Who cannot appoint or revoke a representative on behalf of the claimant

The following individuals cannot appoint or revoke a representative on behalf of a claimant:

  • the representative payee;

  • a third-party proper applicant; and

  • the representative.

3. Scope of appointment

In the written notice of appointment, the claimant decides the scope of the appointment and the pending claim(s), matter(s), or issue(s) in which he or she is appointing the representative to handle. We do not limit or expand the scope of appointment. We do not assume that the claimant has appointed the representative to handle all pending claim(s), matter(s), or issue(s). If there is ambiguity in the scope of representation, we will contact the claimant for further clarification. See GN 03910.050A for information on contacting a represented claimant.

EXAMPLE: Peggy is filing an appeal for review of a continuing disability review (CDR) that terminated her Title XVI benefits. Peggy appointed James as her representative and James files a written notice of appointment in which Peggy selected "Title XVI" as the issue James will handle on her behalf. While the appeal is still pending, Peggy files a Title II disability claim but does not appoint a representative to handle her Title II claim. We will only send James notices or requests for development, notices of determinations or decisions, and notices of awards related to Peggy's Title XVI claim. See GN 03910.050B for information on written communications sent to both claimants and appointed representatives.

4. Signature date

We recognize the appointment of a representative as of:

  • the date that the claimant signed the written notice of appointment (e.g., Form SSA-1696 or any other writing); or

  • the date we receive the written notice of appointment if the notice is not dated.

NOTE: We cannot accept the filing of a written notice of appointment unless we have a pending claim, matter, or issue. See GN 03910.001B for the definition of "pending claim, matter, or issue" and NOTE 2 in GN 03910.040D.2.a for information on what to do when we receive a written notice of appointment with no pending claim, matter, or issue.

However, we will accept a written notice of appointment dated prior to the filing date of the claim, matter, or issue.

5. Supplemental appointments

Supplemental appointments are notices of appointments submitted by an appointed representative to indicate changes in information that are not significant.

  • Representatives can submit supplemental appointments without a claimant's signature when the changes do not affect the representative's appointment relationship with the claimant (e.g., the representative is changing his or her own address, direct pay eligibility status, or phone number).

  • Representatives cannot submit supplemental appointments without a claimant's signature when the changes affect the representative's appointment relationship with the claimant (e.g., change in the fee arrangement or the claimant updates his or her personal information such as first or last name, address, or phone number).

NOTE: If the representative and the claimant signed and submitted a written notice of appointment before the date the representative became eligible for direct fee payment, the representative is required to submit a supplemental appointment for each case in which he or she wishes to receive direct payment after the date he or she became eligible.

6. Law firm or organization named as representative

Although we do not recognize law firms or organizations (i.e., entity) as representatives, claimants sometimes complete written notices of appointments in which they identify an entity instead of an individual.

In such cases, if an individual in the entity signs the written notice of appointment, process the written notice of appointment for this individual as long as they have provided the basic information consistent with GN 03910.040D.2. We will recognize only this individual, not the entity, as the claimant's appointed representative. For example, Sara submits a Form SSA-1696 and lists “Hawthorne and James, a Professional Corporation” as her representative. The form contains information consistent with GN 03910.040D.2. “Henry James” signs the form and accepts the appointment. In this case, we will recognize Henry James as Sara's representative.

NOTE 1: With the incorporation of the RepID into the Form SSA-1696, we can no longer accept multiple names on a single notice of appointment. See GN 03910.040C.1 on how to process appointments when multiple representatives are appointed at the same time.

NOTE 2: See GN 03910.040A.2 for information on signature requirements for non-attorney representatives.

C. Multiple representatives appointed

If the claimant submits a new written notice of appointment but has previously appointed another representative and there is no indication that the first representative's appointment has ended, as explained in GN 03910.060B:

  • contact the claimant to determine if he or she intended to either appoint both representatives as co-representatives with one of them being the principal representative or to revoke the first representative (IMPORTANT: do not suggest that the claimant needs to revoke the first representative); or

  • contact the first representative to find out if he or she withdrew from the pending claim, matter, or issue.

1. Multiple representatives appointed at the same time (simultaneously)

A claimant may appoint more than one individual to serve as his or her representative at the same time. Whenever there are multiple representatives on a pending claim, matter, or issue, the claimant must specify which representative will be the principal representative.

Check the claim file to determine whether:

  • the claimant appointed each co-representative individually , in writing, and specified who is the principal representative. Section 3 of the Form SSA-1696 has a fill-in to designate the principal representative; and

  • each co-representative meets the qualifications in GN 03910.020A.1 or GN 03920.020A.2.

NOTE: Except for notices related to the authorization of fees, we send all notices including requests for development only to the principal representative and a copy to the claimant. The principal representative must provide copies of the notices to other co-representatives.

2. Multiple representatives appointed at different times (subsequently)

A claimant may appoint more than one individual to serve as his or her representative at different times.

a. Claimant revokes the appointment of the first representative

A claimant may revoke the appointment of one representative and then appoint another representative to represent him or her. If this happens, check the claim file to determine whether:

  • the claimant submitted a signed statement revoking the appointment of the first representative;

  • the claimant submitted a signed, written notice of appointment for the new representative;

  • the new representative meets the qualifications in GN 03910.020A.1 or GN 03920.020A.2; and

  • the new representative is eligible to receive direct payment and requests direct payment on the pending claim, matter or issue.

See GN 03910.060B.3 for information about revocation of an appointed representative.

For convenience, claimants may use Form SSA-1696 SUP-1 (Claimant's Revocation of a Representative).

b. First representative withdraws

A representative may withdraw from a pending claim, matter, or issue. If this happens:

  • obtain a copy of any written statement to that effect from the representative or document the file with a report of contact (ROC) if the representative did not submit a written statement; and

  • document whether the representative will request a waiver of his or her right to charge or collect a fee from either the claimant or any other source.

See GN 03910.060B.4 for information about withdrawal of an appointed representative and GN 03920.020 for instructions on waiver of fee or direct payment of representative's fees.

For convenience, representatives may use Form SSA-1696 SUP-2 (Representative's Withdrawal of an Acceptance of an Appointment).

c. Claimant does not revoke the appointment of the first representative and the first representative does not withdraw

If a claimant appoints an additional representative(s) but does not revoke the appointment of the first representative, the first representative does not withdraw, and the new written notice of appointment does not specify a principal representative:

  • contact the claimant to find out who he or she wants as the principal representative on the pending claim, matter, or issue;

  • document your contact with the claimant in the electronic or paper folder using a ROC; and

  • check the claim file as noted in GN 03910.040C.2.a.

D. Processing a written notice of appointment

Beginning March 12, 2018, we have been processing all written notices of appointments for representatives in the Registration, Appointment and Services for Representatives (RASR) application for representatives who are registered for direct payment at the time of the appointment.

The parties can document the appointment of a representative by signing and submitting a written notice of appointment (e.g., Form SSA-1696 or any other writing) that meets the requirements outlined in GN 03910.040A. We will collect basic information from the written notice of appointment and process the appointment in our systems.

1. Information we maintain for representatives

We maintain a current record of the identity of the person representing the claimant in our systems. Technicians in the FO will annotate the appointment of representatives according to the instructions in GN 03910.040E.

Staff at the HO or AC cannot process a written notice of appointment but will annotate the appointment and the representative’s information as explained in HALLEX I-1-1-11.

2. Information we collect to process the appointment of a representative

a. What basic information we collect to process the appointment

In meeting the requirements outlined in GN 03910.040A, we will collect the following basic information:

  • identity of the claimant by first and last name and social security number (SSN);

  • identity of the representative by first and last name and RepID (if provided by the representative because he or she is registered in RASR);

  • claimant's signature in ink;

  • non-attorney representative's signature in ink, using a rubber stamp or an electronic method (as long as there is no indication to contradict the representative's intent to accept the appointment); and

  • consideration of "dealings with us" to be a pending claim, matter, or issue before us. See GN 03910.001B for the definition of "pending claim, matter, or issue."

NOTE 1: The written notice of appointment (e.g., Form SSA-1696 or any other writing) is invalid when it lacks this basic required information, which is needed for purposes of processing and recognizing the appointment. We will return the written notice of appointment to the party who submitted it as "unprocessed." See GN 03905.055B.2 for sample language on when we do not recognize an appointment because the form is incomplete.

NOTE 2: We will not accept a written notice of appointment if there is no pending claim, matter, or issue (e.g., an iClaim filed by a third-party without the claimant’s signature in ink or agency approved signature alternative/signature proxies on behalf of the claimant as required by GN 00201.015) and the representative submits a Form SSA-1696 or any other writing. Such a written notice of appointment is invalid. We will return the written notice of appointment to the party who submitted it with an annotation of "not processed" using the language in GN 03905.055B.1.

If we cannot identify the individual who submitted the written notice of appointment, we will return the written notice to the claimant using language in GN 03905.055B.1.

b. What additional information we collect to process the appointment in our systems

To ensure that we accurately process written notices of appointment in our systems, which in turn ensures accurate fee processing and communications with the claimant and representative, we need additional information:

  • the claimant’s and representative’s addresses and telephone numbers;

  • the parties’ fee arrangement (if any);

  • the representative’s signature if he or she waives the fees;

  • signed attestations of the representative(s); and

  • the name of the principal representative if the claimant appoints more than one representative.

If this additional information is missing from either the Form SSA-1696 or any other writing, process the appointment as explained in GN 03910.040E.2, but contact the claimant or representative to obtain the additional information. Record the contact with the claimant or representative using a Report of Contact (RPOC) in Modernized Claims System (MCS) or Report of Contact (DROC) in Modernized SSI Claims System (MSSICS), or ROC (upload the ROC into the electronic folder or file an original ROC in the paper folder). Update RASR, MCS, and MSSICS once the additional information is obtained.

3. Direct payment of fees to eligible and registered representatives (i.e., an attorney or an Eligible for Direct Fee Payment Non-Attorney (EDPNA))

Sections 6041(a) and 6045(f) of the Internal Revenue Code require us to issue an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099-MISC (Social Security Benefit Statement) to each representative who receives, by direct payment from us, aggregate fees of $600 or more in a calendar year.

a. When we will pay a fee directly to the claimant's representative

To comply with this requirement, we will pay a fee directly to the claimant’s representative only if:

  • the claimant signs the written notice of appointment in ink (alternate signatures from the claimant are not acceptable);

  • the representative is eligible for direct fee payment. See GN 03920.017 and GN 03920.018 for information on attorney and non-attorney representatives' eligibility for direct fee payment;

  • the representative registers with us before we effectuate a favorable decision that results in past due benefits. If the representative does not register timely, we will release the withheld past-due benefits to the claimant and payment of any authorized fee is a matter between the representative and claimant. See GN 03920.017B and GN 03920.017C for information on direct payment of representative fees in administrative proceedings before us. If the attorney, who represented the claimant before the court, is not registered to receive direct payment when we effectuate the court’s favorable judgment, see GN 03920.060E.2.b for instructions on notifying the court attorney about registering with us for direct payment; and

  • the representative has not waived a fee or direct payment of the fee. See GN 03920.020 for information on waiver of fee or direct fee payment of representative's fee.

b. How does a representative register with us?

In order to register with us, the representative must perform the following steps:

  • Submit a Form SSA-1699 (Registration for Appointed Representative Services and Direct Payment) to us via fax. See GN 03913.000 for information on individual registration for appointed representative services and direct payment of fees;

  • Submit Form SSA-1694 (Request for Business Entity Taxpayer Identification) either online or to the FO. See GN 03905.015 and GN 03925.001 for information on Form SSA-1694; and

  • Submit a written notice of appointment (e.g., Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative) or any other writing) to the appropriate FO prior to the effectuation of the pending claim, matter, or issue. If the representative submits the Form SSA-1696 solely for the purpose of registering for direct fee payment (and not to establish an appointment), the claimant is not required to sign the form. See GN 03910.040B.5 for information on supplemental appointments.

Upon receipt of these forms, we enter the information provided on these forms into RASR. Form SSA-1696 establishes a link between the claimant and representative in RASR. Forms SSA-1694 and SSA-1699 provide tax affiliation and other information about the representative and entity.

NOTE 1: We update the representative's information in RASR only when the representative submits a new Form SSA-1699. Accordingly, a representative is responsible for notifying us of any changes in the information he or she previously provided. See GN 03910.060H for information on handling name changes for appointed representatives and GN 03913.015 for information on updating individual registration information for appointed representative services and direct payment of fees.

NOTE 2: RASR only updates the Electronic Folder Interface (EFI), which updates Electronic Disability System (EDCS). Other downstream applications such as MCS, MSSICS, and Manual Adjustment Credit and Award Data Entry (MACADE) retrieve the most current information from RASR only when the technician takes an update action in those respective applications. See MSS18-013 for information on RASR.

NOTE 3: If the attorney is only seeking direct payment of a court-awarded fee, he or she must register with us but the claimant does not need to appoint him or her as a representative in a pending claim, matter, or issue before the agency. See GN 03913.025 for information on paper registration using Form SSA-1699 to enroll in direct payment of fees and GN 03920.060 for information on attorneys’ fees for representation in proceedings before a court.

E. Processing appointments at the FO

The FO will take the actions described in the steps below if:

  • the claimant appoints a representative by submitting a signed, written notice of appointment consistent with GN 03910.040A.1; and

  • the FO receives the signed, written notice of appointment before an appeal is filed.

1. Review the written notice of appointment before entering information into RASR

Prior to entering information into RASR, review the written notice of appointment to determine whether it contains information as noted in GN 03910.040D.2.

If the written notice of appointment is unclear about the scope of appointment or does not specify which pending claim(s), matter(s), or issue(s) the representative is appointed to handle:

  • contact the claimant (by telephone or in writing) to clarify the scope of the representation; and

  • document the contact with the claimant using a RPOC in MCS, DROC in MSSICS, or ROC for non-MCS/MSSICS cases. For non-MCS/MSSICS cases, upload the ROC into the electronic folder or file the original ROC in the paper folder.

2. Flag and annotate the system

Flag and annotate the system as follows:

Paper claims

Step 1. Affix the Form SSA-1128 (Representative Involved) to the front lower right corner of the paper claim folder and indicate whether:

  • the representative is an attorney, EDPNA, or a non-attorney who is not eligible for direct pay;

  • a fee agreement has been submitted. See GN 03940.000;

  • the representative waives a fee;

  • the representative waives only direct payment of the fee from withheld past-due benefits;

  • the claim is Title II, Title XVI, or concurrent;

  • a third party has paid or will pay the representative's fee. See GN 03920.005B and GN 03920.010B for information on our authorization of fees when paid by a third-party entity; and

  • the representative submits a fee agreement, but you are not the decision maker. Check the block on the Form SSA-1128 labeled “Fee Agreement in File,” but do not check either the “Approved” or “Disapproved” block. See GN 03940.002 for information on the fee agreement decision maker.

Step 2. Enter information in RASR and file the written notice of appointment in the claim file.

  1. a. 

    Representative is in RASR.

    1. 1. 

      Enter the information in RASR, which will send the necessary notices and acknowledgments to the appointed representative.

    2. 2. 

      Enter the information also in MCS and MSSICS to ensure the representative's information propagates into all claims systems.

    3. 3. 

      When an affected auxiliary beneficiary's information becomes available, enter this information and ensure that system has created a link.

  2. b. 

    Representative is not in RASR.

    1. 1. 

      When the representative is an attorney or EDPNA and is eligible for and seeking direct payment of a fee but is not in RASR, process the written notice of appointment outside of RASR as explained in 2a below. Explain to the representative that our regulations require that representatives who are eligible for and seek direct payment of their fees must register with us. Once the representative is registered for direct payment, enter his or her information in RASR. Refer to 71 FR 58043 and GN 03913.000 for information on individual registration for appointed representative services and direct payment of fees. If the representative (attorney or EDPNA) is eligible for but not seeking direct payment, process his or her appointment as explained in step 2a below.

    2. 2. 

      If the representative is a non-attorney who is not eligible for direct pay, you may contact him or her and ask if he or she would like to register in RASR for access to electronic services as explained in GN 03913.020B.

      1. a. 

        If the non-attorney declines to register, file the written notice of appointment in the Title II claim file and a copy in the Title XVI claim file and process the appointment outside of RASR as follows: (1) send manual notices from Document Processing System (DPS) to acknowledge the appointment; and (2) annotate the required downstream applications (e.g., MCS and MSSICS) with the representative's name, address, and phone number (in multiple representative situations, enter the principal's representative's name, address, and phone number); and, if applicable, information about a fee agreement or waiver of fee, if any.

      2. b. 

        If the non-attorney representative agrees to register, secure a Form SSA-1699 and process it as explained in GN 03913.005. Unless other reasons prevent recognition of the appointment, process the appointment as you would for unregistered representatives. Once the non-attorney is registered, enter the appointment data in RASR. This is a one-time registration process done for non-attorney representatives who want access to electronic services.

Step 3. Other systems

  1. a. 

    In pending Title II and Title XVI claims:

    1. 1. 

      Add DW01 issue of “1696,” as explained in MS 03508.004 in MCS and MSSICS. See DI 31001.000 for information on claimant representation.

    2. 2. 

      Annotate the NOT2 screen in a Title II MCS claim, as explained in MS 03509.009.

    3. 3. 

      In a Title II non-MCS claim, annotate the Special Message field of the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) (after MBR is established) as explained in MS 06307.008 and obtain an Inquiry Response Identification (QRID) query as explained in MS 05206.002 and MS 05206.022.

    4. 4. 

      In Title XVI claims, annotate the UATH and UFEE screens, if any fee information is applicable and available (i.e., appointed representative is eligible for and requesting direct payment).

  2. b. 

    In reconsideration requests and hearing requests on MCS, annotate the system, as explained in MS 03510.004 or MS 03510.006, as applicable.

  3. c. 

    In post-entitlement situations, if you need to answer questions about the record posed by a claimant or an appointed representative, query the system as explained in MS 05206.002, MS 05206.022, and MS 05206.023. This query accesses representative identification information gathered from the MBR, SSR, and the Authorized Representative File on the Modernized Data Input.

Step 4. PC systems

  1. a. 

    To send an action request for the PC, use “Paperless” to fax items and create in the Payment Center Action Control System (PCACS).

  2. b. 

    Use the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed) to store Title II and Title XVI documents and material for claims that do not have an electronic folder.

  3. c. 

    Annotate the system if a Federal reviewing official, the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO), or the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) notifies the FO that it has received an appointment of representative.

NOTE: When the claimant revokes the representative's appointment or the representative withdraws before we issue a favorable determination or decision and the claimant does not appoint another representative, remove the Form SSA-1128 from the paper claim file, the appointed representative’s information from the NOT2 screen in MCS and UATH screen in MSSICS, and terminate the appointment in RASR. The revoked or withdrawn representative is not entitled to direct payment. Terminating the appointment in RASR will break the link between the representative and the pending claim, matter, or issue and prevent direct payment of a fee, if any. See the NOTE in GN 03920.017A for information on when we do not withhold the claimant's past due benefits for direct payment of an authorized fee to a representative.

When the claimant revokes the representative's appointment or the representative withdraws after we issue a favorable determination or decision, remove the Form SSA-1128 from the paper claim and process direct payment of the authorized fee as explained in SM 00834.001 for Title II claims or SM 01901.000 for Title XVI claims. Representatives who are revoked or withdraw after we issue a favorable determination or decision are entitled to direct payment from us. If necessary, develop for the date of revocation or withdrawal if the date is not shown on the statement of revocation or withdrawal.

Electronic claims Step 1. Enter information in RASR and downstream applications (e.g., MCS, MSSICS, and EDCS) as explained in Step 2 above.

If processing the written notice of appointment outside of RASR:

  • upload the written notice of appointment into the electronic folder;

  • send manual notices from DPS to acknowledge the appointment;

  • annotate the required downstream applications (e.g., MCS and MSSICS) with the representative’s name, address, and phone number. If the claimant appoints multiple representatives, enter the principal representative’s name, address, and phone number; and

  • if applicable, enter information about a fee agreement or waiver of a fee, if any.

Step 2. Add the Representative flag.

If a representative enters the case before you send the medical file to the Disability Determination Services (DDS), OHO, or OAO, add the Representative flag for an electronic folder in disability claims. See DI 81020.085 for information on certified electronic folder flags.

If the case is at the reconsideration or hearing level and jurisdiction has changed, activate the flag and send an update after transfer (UAT) in EDCS.

Step 3. Enter information in other systems as explained in Step 3 above and annotate the EDCS transfer screen.

See DI 81010.085 for information on transferring cases in EDCS.

Step 4. Enter information in PC systems as explained in Step 4 above.

NOTE: When the claimant revokes the representative's appointment or the representative withdraws before we issue a favorable determination or decision and the claimant does not appoint another representative, remove the Representative flag from EDCS, the appointed representative’s information from the NOT2 screen in MCS and UATH screen in MSSICS, and terminate the appointment in RASR. The revoked or withdrawn representative is not entitled to direct payment. If the pending claim, matter, or issue is at the initial, reconsideration, or hearing level, send an UAT in EDCS. Terminating the appointment in RASR will break the link between the representative and the pending claim, matter, or issue and prevent direct payment of a fee, if any. See the NOTE in GN 03920.017A for information on when we do not withhold the claimant's past due benefits for direct payment of an authorized fee to a representative.

When the claimant revokes the representative's appointment or the representative withdraws after we issue a favorable determination or decision, terminate the appointment in RASR and process direct payment of the authorized fee as explained in SM 00834.001 for Title II claims or SM 01901.000 for Title XVI claims. Representatives who are revoked or withdraw after we issue a favorable determination or decision are entitled to direct payment from us. If necessary, develop for the date of revocation or withdrawal if the date is not shown on the statement of revocation or withdrawal.

IMPORTANT: Go through the respective screens in MACADE (e.g., ATT), MCS (e.g., NOT2), and MSSICS (e.g., UATH and UFEE) when adjudicating a claim. This ensures that MACADE, MSC, and MSSICS have the most up-to-date appointed representative information.

3. Label evidence

For paper claims, label any evidence submitted by a representative without a cover letter or other identifier by annotating the evidence in the upper right corner “Submitted by [Representative's Name] on [Date]."

4. Acknowledge the written notice of appointment

In acknowledging the notice of appointment, RASR sends a notice to the appointed representative and a copy to the claimant. The acknowledgment notice is also available in DPS and Manage Text (AURORA) processing system for manual processing in cases where RASR fails to send the notice (e.g., claimant's address is missing) and for appointments processed outside of RASR (e.g., representatives who are not registered for direct payment).

IMPORTANT: Sending a copy of the acknowledgment notice alerts the claimant that we recognize the appointment and ensures the claimant's continued concurrence with it.

F. Processing appointments at the Payment Center (PC)

When a claim is in the process of effectuation or adjudication in the PC and the PC receives a written notice of appointment or other representational documents that have not previously been associated with the claim file, take the following actions:

1. Written notice of appointment from FO, OHO, or OAO

If the FO, OHO, or OAO sent a written notice of appointment or other representational documents, assume that the FO acknowledged the appointment and:

  • affix the Form SSA-1128 prepared by the FO to a paper claim file; or

  • activate the Representative flag in the electronic folder if the FO did not.

2. No written notice of appointment in claim file

If the claim file indicates or the FO sends material that indicates the involvement of a representative in the case (e.g., additional evidence accompanied by a cover letter from a representative), but a written notice of appointment is not in the claim file, contact the FO to determine whether the notice of appointment was retained there. If so, ask the FO to send a copy of the written notice of appointment. If not, obtain a copy of the written notice of appointment from the claimant, the representative or, if necessary, the FO.

If the HO sends material that indicates involvement of a representative, but a written notice of appointment is not in the claim file, contact the HO to obtain a copy of the written notice of appointment.

3. Flag and annotate the system

To flag and annotate the system, follow the instructions in GN 03910.040E.2.

IMPORTANT: Refer to the NOTE in GN 03910.040E.2 if you are annotating a statement of revocation or withdrawal in a paper or electronic claim.

G. Processing appointments in post-entitlement (PE) situations at the PC

Take the action(s) in GN 03910.040F if:

  1. 1. 

    The PC has completed effectuation or adjudication of a claim, matter or issue, including the claim(s), matter(s), or issue(s) of an affected auxiliary beneficiary, if any;

  2. 2. 

    The PC receives material regarding representation that has not previously been associated when the claim file;

    1. a. 

      If the material includes a written notice of appointment, see GN 03910.040F.1 or

    2. b. 

      If there is no written notice of appointment in the claim file, see GN 03910.040F.2. Send to the newly appointed representative copies of any notice of determination that the PC sent the claimant; and

  3. 3. 

    The appeals period for the last determination effectuated in the claim has not expired.

NOTE: Refer to GN 03920.050 for instructions on taking corrective actions in situations where we processed the award without withholding past-due benefits for representative fees.

GN 03910.050 Contacting a Represented Claimant

A. When we may contact a represented claimant directly

Generally, when a claimant has an appointed representative, we will communicate directly with the representative and not the claimant. However, we may contact the claimant directly if:

  • the representative asks us to deal directly with the claimant. See GN 03910.050C;

  • the claimant, who is alleging blindness or a visual impairment, elects to receive notices by first class mail with a follow-up telephone call from us to read the notices to him or her. See NL 01001.000 for the special notice option (SNO);

  • the contact relates to a possible violation of the Rules of Conduct and Standards of Responsibility for Representatives. See GN 03970.010;

  • there is an indication that a representative's appointment may have ended, but the information in our records is unclear or insufficient;

  • there is ambiguity about the scope of representation; or

  • there are multiple representatives appointed and it is not clear who is currently appointed or who is the principal representative.

EXAMPLE: The claimant appointed two representatives at different times and the representatives do not appear to be working together. In this instance, we will contact the claimant directly to clarify the situation.

B. Written communications sent to both claimants and appointed representatives

We send all written communications relating to a pending claim, matter, or issue to the claimant and his or her appointed representative(s), if any. Specifically, we will:

  • in disability claims, send notices or requests for development (i.e., a written request for specific evidence) to the principal representative and a copy to the claimant;

  • send notices of determinations and decisions and notices of awards to the claimant and a copy to the representative or if applicable, the principal representative. See NL 00601.010A for information on award notices; and

  • in communications related to the authorization of representative fees, send the notice(s) to the representative and a copy to the claimant, as appropriate. In fee agreement cases, send notice(s) related to the authorization of fees to the representative or if applicable, the principal representative when there are multiple representatives appointed to a pending claim, matter, or issue. See GN 03940.008C and GN 03940.055A.2 for information on fee agreement notices. In fee petition cases, if the claimant has appointed multiple representatives on a pending claim, matter, or issue, send notice(s) related to the authorization of fees to each representative, as appropriate. See GN 03905.075 for information on fee petition notices.

C. How we contact a represented claimant

1. Directly contacting a represented claimant about a pending claim, matter, or issue

If the representative requests that we contact the claimant directly about a pending claim, matter, or issue:

  1. a. 

    Document the Report of Contact (RPOC) in Modernized Claims System (MCS) or Report of Contact (DROC) in Modernized SSI Claims System (MSSICS) with language that clearly indicates that the representative wants us to contact the claimant directly.

  2. b. 

    Do an update after transfer (UAT) in Electronic Data Collection System (EDCS) under other updates and provide details to alert Disability Determination Services (DDS) or Office of Hearing Operations (OHO) about this information. For electronic cases, fax a copy of SSA Form-5002 (Report of Contact (ROC)) into the electronic folder. For paper cases, forward the ROC to the appropriate component.

  3. c. 

    For electronic cases, add the following message, "Representative Involved - prefers direct contact with the claimant." See DI 81005.040 for information on alerts and messages.

  4. d. 

    Contact the claimant directly in this pending claim, matter or issue and document your contact accordingly.

  5. e. 

    Send copies of written contacts (e.g., ROC) with the claimant to the appointed representative (the principal representative if there are multiple representatives appointed to a pending claim, matter, or issue).

NOTE: If the representative is registered, you may also complete a ROC in the Registration, Appointment and Services for Representatives (RASR) application. If you complete a ROC in RASR, document the appropriate screens in MCS or MSSICS because RASR does not automatically update information in MCS or MSSICS.

2. Contacting a represented claimant directly about post-entitlement (PE) matters

If the representative requests we contact the claimant directly in PE matters:

  1. a. 

    Complete an ROC or document the DROC screen in MSSICS cases indicating that the representative has requested we contact the claimant directly and specify the PE issue the representative is handling.

  2. b. 

    Document the Special Message field of the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) or Supplemental Security Income Record Display (SSIRD) with language that indicates that the representative wants us to contact the claimant directly and specify the type of PE issue.

  3. c. 

    For electronic cases, fax a copy of the ROC or DROC into the electronic folder. For paper cases, fax a copy of the ROC or DROC into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed).

  4. d. 

    Contact the claimant directly in the PE matter and document your contact accordingly.

  5. e. 

    Send copies of written contacts (e.g., ROC) with the claimant to the appointed representative (the principal representative if there are multiple representatives appointed to a pending claim, matter, or issue).

3. Contacting a claimant to read a notice when the claimant elects SNO

If a represented claimant elects SNO, call him or her directly within five (5) business days of the date of the notice and assist the claimant with any questions he or she may have.

NOTE: Do not initiate requests for information or ask additional questions unless the representative gives us permission to communicate directly with the claimant.

For example, the FO technician calls to read a notice to a claimant because he or she elected SNO. The technician discovers the claimant also needs to submit additional evidence such as proof of wages. The technician must not ask for this additional information during this contact. Instead, the technician must contact the representative to obtain the information or permission to call the claimant directly. Otherwise, the technician must make the request in writing to both the claimant and representative.

D. Communicating with appointed representatives

When communicating with an appointed representative, document all verbal contacts regarding any pending claim, matter, or issue using a ROC.

You must record your documentation regardless of whether the contact was initiated by the appointed representative or us. This requirement for documentation begins with the date we recognized the representative's appointment and continues until the representative's appointment ends. See GN 03910.060B for information on events that end a representative's appointment.

1. Updating the claim file

Update the claim file by:

  • adding any written document we receive from the appointed representative regarding the pending claim, matter, or issue (e.g., a letter, protest, or clarification). For electronic cases, fax the written document into the electronic folder. For paper cases, update the paper file with the original;

  • completing a ROC to document the in-person or telephone contact. For electronic cases, fax the ROC into the electronic folder or do an UAT in EDCS. For paper cases, update the paper file with the original. If you do not have the claim file, send a copy of the ROC or written contact to the component where the claim file is located after faxing the documentation into NDRed; or

  • annotating the claims development screen, if available, with the date and a brief description of the contact (e.g., requested claimant to sign Form SSA-827 (Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration)).

2. Updating RASR

Update RASR by recording a ROC to add information from the written document (e.g., an EIN/affiliation clarification or a request for a reprint of Form SSA-1699 (Registration for Appointed Representative Services and Direct Payment)) we receive from the representative.

GN 03910.060 When a Representative's Appointment Ends

A. Duration of a representative's appointment

A representative's appointment and his or her authority end when the events explained in GN 03910.060B occur.

However, we may extend or reinstate a representative's appointment for a limited time or in cases involving good cause or reopening, as explained in GN 03910.060D.

B. Events that end a representative's appointment

The appointment of a representative and his or her authority end when:

  • we complete all actions on a pending claim, matter, or issue and no appeal is filed within the appeal period;

  • the appointed representative files a fee petition;

  • the claimant revokes the appointment of the representative;

  • the appointed representative withdraws his or her acceptance of the appointment from a pending claim, matter, or issue;

  • we make a final decision to suspend or disqualify the representative; or

  • the representative dies.

NOTE: Unless one of these events occurs, an appointed representative's appointment and authority continue throughout the entirety of the administrative process and court proceedings, regardless of whether the appointed representative also represents the claimant during the court proceedings or only before the agency.

For example, if Mr. Jones represents the claimant before the agency, but Ms. Smith represents the claimant before the court (without any involvement from Mr. Jones), Mr. Jones' appointment continues throughout the time of the court proceedings and any additional administrative proceedings that may follow a court remand - unless one of the above events occurs. This is true even if the claim goes back and forth between the agency and the court multiple times.

1. When we complete all actions on a pending claim, matter, or issue and no appeal is filed within the appeal period

We complete all actions on a pending claim, matter, or issue (e.g., a post-entitlement (PE) issue) when:

  • we make a final determination or decision on that claim, matter, or issue and issue all of the required notices, including notices to the affected auxiliary beneficiary, if any; and

  • the period to appeal our final determination or decision ends.

a. When we make a final determination or decision on a pending claim, matter, or issue and issue all of the required notices

In either partially or fully favorable decisions, we complete all actions when we effectuate the determination or decision and issue the award notice(s) to the claimant and affected auxiliary beneficiary, if any.

EXAMPLE 1: In a Title II claim, we authorize a fee of $6,000 based on the primary claimant's past due benefits, but there are delayed affected auxiliary beneficiary claims that we have not adjudicated. The representative's services continue until we adjudicate the delayed affected auxiliary beneficiary claims.

In concurrent Title II and Title XVI claims involving a common issue (e.g., entitlement to benefits based on disability), we complete all actions when we decide and issue award notice(s) under both titles to the claimant and affected auxiliary beneficiary under Title II and the spouse under Title XVI, if any.

EXAMPLE 2: In a concurrent claim, we authorize a fee of $6,000 based on the claimant's Title II past due benefits, but we have not adjudicated one or more issues that may affect the amount of Title XVI benefits (e.g., windfall offset or Title II income adjustment). The representative's services continue until we adjudicate the remaining issues.

In concurrent Title II and Title XVI claims not involving a common issue, we complete action when we decide each title and effectuate the respective determinations or decisions.

b. When the period to appeal our final determination or decision ends

The period to appeal our final determination or decision, including any decision(s) on an affected auxiliary beneficiary, ends 60 days from the date the claimant and affected auxiliary beneficiary, if any, receive our final determination or decision.

If no appeal is filed, the representative's appointment ends at the end of the appeals period.

2. The appointed representative files a fee petition

Only the appointed representative(s), who performed services on a pending claim, matter or issue, can file a fee petition for those services. This representative’s appointment ends when he or she files a fee petition, which declares that his or her services on a pending claim, matter, or issue have ended.

See GN 03930.005 for information on the submission of fee petitions and GN 03930.020C for information on the filing of a fee petition.

3. The claimant revokes the appointment of the representative

A representative's appointment ends when the claimant (a parent of a claimant under age 18 or a legal guardian for a legally incompetent claimant) advises us in a signed and dated writing that he or she is revoking the representative's appointment. The claimant, parent, or legal guardian can revoke the appointment of a representative at any time. See GN 03910.040B.1 for information on the individuals who can sign a written notice of appointment.

To document a revocation:

  1. a. 

    Appointments in the Registration, Appointment and Services for Representatives (RASR) application: terminate the representative’s appointment in RASR as explained in the NOTE in GN 03910.040E.2 depending on whether it is a paper or electronic claim and include a copy of any written notice of revocation in the claim file. RASR will automatically send a notice to the representative; or

  2. b. 

    Appointments outside of RASR: generate a manual notice in Document Processing System (DPS) or Manage Text (AURORA) to notify the representative and for electronic claims, fax the written notice of revocation into the electronic folder or for paper claims, fax the written notice of revocation into Paperless and place the original in the paper claim file.

NOTE: For convenience, the claimant may use Form SSA-1696 SUP-1 (Claimant's Revocation of the Appointment of a Representative).

4. The appointed representative withdraws his or her acceptance of the appointment

A representative's appointment ends when the representative advises us in a dated and signed writing that he or she is withdrawing from the case. The representative can withdraw from representing the claimant at any time consistent with the rules explained in HALLEX I-1-1-30C. Only the appointed representative can withdraw him or herself.

To document a withdrawal:

  1. a. 

    Appointments in RASR: terminate the representative’s appointment in RASR as explained in the NOTE in GN 03910.040E.2 depending on whether it is a paper or electronic claim and include a copy of any written notice of withdrawal in the claim file. RASR will automatically send a notice to the representative; or

  2. b. 

    Appointments outside of RASR: generate a manual notice in DPS or AURORA to notify the representative and for electronic claims, fax the written notice of withdrawal into the electronic folder or for paper claims, fax the written notice of withdrawal into Paperless and place the original in the paper claim file.

NOTE: For convenience, representatives may use Form SSA-1696 SUP-2 (Representative's Withdrawal of Acceptance of an Appointment).

5. We make a final decision to suspend or disqualify the representative

The representative's appointment and authority end when the agency's decision to suspend or disqualify the representative becomes final.

The Office of General Law (OGL) and Offices of the Regional Chief Counsels (RCC) in the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) handle all proceedings to suspend or disqualify a representative. Once the agency's decision to suspend or disqualify the representative becomes final, OGC will terminate the appointment in RASR, which then ends the representative’s appointment on all pending cases (claims, matters, or issues) that he or she was appointed to handle. RASR will automatically notify each of the representative’s clients about the representative’s suspension or disqualification.

If RASR cannot send a notice to a claimant (e.g., missing address), it will generate a list of claimants currently associated with that representative. Using this list, the field office will follow established procedure to locate the claimant's address in other systems and then manually send notifications to each claimant about the representative’s suspension or disqualification. See GN 03970.060D.1 for information on notifying the suspended or disqualified representative's claimants or beneficiaries.

6. The representative dies

A representative's appointment ends when he or she dies. A deceased representative's estate may collect fees on the deceased’s behalf. See GN 03940.009B for information on how we authorize fees in cases with a valid fee agreement after the representative dies and GN 03930.020C.6 for information on how we authorize fees in cases where the representative dies before filing a fee petition.

a. One representative appointed

If the appointed representative dies during the administrative process and before we complete all actions on the pending claim, matter, or issue, we will notify the deceased representative’s estate (redacting the claimant’s personally identifiable information as necessary) as explained in GN 03940.003D.6.

We will also contact the claimant directly to determine whether he or she would like to appoint another representative.

b. Multiple representatives appointed

If the claimant appointed multiple representatives and the principal representative dies, we will contact the claimant to select a new principal representative. Otherwise, we will continue our communications with the principal representative.

See GN 03910.040C for information on the appointment of multiple representatives.

C. Communications with a representative after the appointment ends

After the representative's appointment ends, do not send any notices about the claimant and affected auxiliary beneficiary, if any, to the representative or answer any written or oral inquiries from that representative.

EXCEPTION: We will send notices related to the representative’s fee (e.g., questions about a fee petition filed after the appointment has been terminated) or responses to a request for administrative review of the authorized fee. See GN 03960.000 for information about administrative review of fee authorizations under the fee agreement process and GN 03950.000 for information about administrative review of fee authorizations under the fee petition process.

D. When we may extend a representative's appointment

Generally, we do not extend or reinstate a representative's appointment after it ends. See GN 03910.060B for information on events that end a representative's appointment.

If a claimant wants to be represented again by a previously appointed representative for the same or any pending claim, matter, or issue (unless RASR shows that the representative is disqualified or suspended), he or she must file a new written notice of appointment with us. See GN 03910.040 for information on the appointment of a representative.

However, we may extend or reinstate a representative's appointment for a limited time or in cases involving good cause and reopenings.

1. Extension of an appointment for a limited time

We may extend an appointment for a limited time if the claimant asks us in writing and the situation warrants it (e.g., partial or deferred development when a case involves worker's compensation information or an overpayment). In this situation, we will continue to conduct business with the representative until we conclude case development on the particular claim, matter, or issue.

2. Appointment in cases involving good cause and reopenings

The duration of a representative's appointment does not always coincide with the duration of a pending claim, matter, or issue.

Generally, we require a new, signed written notice of appointment to reinstate a representative whose appointment has ended, conduct business with him or her, and continue disclosing information to him or her. However, we apply the following exceptions provided there is no indication to contradict the assumption that the representative's appointment continues:

a. Good cause found for untimely filing of an appeal

One of the events that ends the representative’s appointment is when we complete all actions on a pending claim, matter, or issue (i.e., issue a final determination or decision and issue all required notices to the claimant and affected auxiliary beneficiary, if any) and no appeal is filed within the appeal period. See GN 03910.060B.2 for information on this event ending the representative’s appointment.

However, under certain circumstances, we may find good cause for extending the time limit to file an appeal. See GN 03101.020B, HALLEX I-2-0-60, and HALLEX I-3-4-2 for information on good cause for late filing considerations.

We will assume that the claimant continues to engage the former representative without a new or amended notice of appointment when:

  • the appeal and good cause explanation or statement are both filed by the representative;

  • there is indication the representative is still involved (e.g., the claimant verbally informs us or submits a written statement to us); or

  • an administrative error occurred (e.g., the representative's copy of the final determination or decision notice was mailed to the wrong address and caused the delay in filing).

NOTE: If the claimant verbally informs us that the former representative is still involved, document the record using a Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact) with language that clearly indicates that the claimant wants to work with the previously appointed representative.

b. Reopening of prior determination or decision

In certain situations, we may reopen and revise a determination or decision after it is final and binding either on our initiative or at the request of a party to the determination or decision (e.g., the claimant or representative). See 20 CFR 404.987 - 404.989 and 416.1487 - 416.1489.

Following a reopening, we will assume that the claimant continues to engage the former representative without a new or amended notice of appointment when:

  • the reopening is requested by the former representative;

  • there is indication that the claimant continues to engage the former representative (e.g., the representative submits a brief or additional medical evidence along with the request for reopening);

  • the reopening is warranted due to an administrative error. See GN 04010.010B.2 for information on administrative errors not subject to the rules of administrative finality; or

  • a court order for a reopening indicates that the previous representative's appointment continues.

NOTE: When a new or amended notice of appointment is required to reinstate the appointment in the same claim, matter, or issue, the representative's appointment begins with the date of the first written notice of appointment. See GN 03910.040B.4 for information on signature dates and when we recognize the appointment of a representative.

E. Appointment of a Representative in Subsequent Disability Applications

When we accept a subsequent disability application and the claimant has appealed the prior claim to the Appeals Council (AC), we require that the parties submit a new notice of appointment even when the appointed representative in the subsequent application is the same individual as in the prior claim. See GN 03104.380 for procedures on handling the new application while a request for review is pending at the AC and GN 03940.038 for information on fee agreements in subsequent application cases.

1. Documenting the appointment when the claimant is represented on the subsequent application

If the claimant appoints the same representative as in the prior claim, accept a copy of the written notice of appointment filed in the prior claim but require that it is signed and dated again by the claimant and the representative if he or she is a non-attorney. Process the written notice of appointment as explained in GN 03910.040D.

If the claimant appoints a different representative on the subsequent application, process the written notice of appointment as explained in GN 03910.040D.

NOTE: If the claimant's intent regarding representation is not clear, contact the claimant to clarify the appointment(s) and document your contact accordingly. See GN 03910.040C for information about when multiple representatives are appointed to a single claim, matter, or issue.

2. Claimant is not represented

Inform the claimant of his or her right to representation as explained in GN 03910.030.

3. When we do not receive a new or amended notice of appointment for a subsequent application

If we do not receive a new written notice of appointment or an updated copy of a previous written notice of appointment (i.e., signed and dated again by the claimant and non-attorney representative), assume that the claimant is not represented in the subsequent application and do not :

  • notify any representative, including any representative appointed in the prior claim, of any decision made in the subsequent application;

  • withhold any of the claimant's past-due benefits based on the subsequent application; or

  • authorize a fee to any representative, including any representative appointed in the prior claim, for services provided on the subsequent application.

F. When a claimant dies

If a claimant dies before we complete action in a pending claim, matter, or issue, the representative's appointment continues until it is ended by one of the events listed in GN 03910.060B.

In Title II and Title XVI claims, the claimant’s qualifying substitute party or survivor (in the order of priority stated in GN 02301.030A.1 for Title II claims and in SI 02101.003A.1 for Title XVI claims) who is entitled to an underpayment can:

  • revoke the appointment of the previously appointed representative; and

  • also appoint a new representative.

NOTE 1: If the survivor appoints a new representative, process the new appointment as explained in GN 03910.040E.

NOTE 2: In Title XVI claims where the claimant is deceased and there is no party entitled to an underpayment (e.g., a State or political subdivision with a written interim assistance reimbursement authorization or survivor), we will dismiss the claim, deny the fee agreement, if any, and not authorize any fees to the appointed representative, if any. We will inform the appointed representative that he or she must file a fee petition for authorization to charge and collect a fee. See bullet 2 in SI 02101.003A.1 and GN 03940.009A for information on SSI underpayments due when the claimant is deceased and payment of representative's fee when the claimant dies before we issue a favorable decision.

G. Handling name changes for appointed representatives

Representatives may change or correct their names for any reason, including marriage or gender reassignment. See RM 10212.010 and RM 10212.150 for information on bases for name changes and corrections.

NOTE: While representatives may use multiple names in their practice (e.g., a representative practices under her maiden name but retains her married name on her bank accounts), we do not recognize multiple names.

1. Representatives registered in RASR

If the representative is registered in RASR, it is not necessary to submit a supplemental notice of appointment when changing a first name, last name, or both. See GN 03910.040B.5 for information on supplemental appointments.

To initiate a name change in our systems, a representative must:

  • submit Form SS-5 to the representative’s servicing field office (FO) along with the required evidence to process the name change; and

  • re-register by submitting a new Form SSA-1699 (Registration for Appointed Representative Services and Direct Payment) to the designated Office of Central Operations as explained in GN 03913.005.

After the representative submits Form SS-5 and a new Form SSA-1699:

  • process Form SS-5 to update the NUMIDENT record and the new Form SSA-1699 as explained in GN 03913.025. These two steps are required before the representative’s name can be updated in RASR and EFI. See RM 10212.000 for information on legal names and changes to the NUMIDENT;

  • enter information into the respective screens in MCS and MSSICS so that each system has information that is consistent with RASR. The name change should propagate into each system once accessed by the technician. See GN 03913.005 for instructions on processing Form SSA-1699; and

  • obtain a list of pending claims, matters, or issues for the particular representative using the RASR query screen.

2. Representatives not registered in RASR

If the representative is not registered in RASR, we require a supplemental notice of appointment with the change in his or her first name, last name, or both. See GN 03910.040B.5 for information on supplemental appointments.


GN 03910 TN 14 - Representation of Claimants - 3/23/2020