Identification Number:
GN 03910 TN 15
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. 15, 04/02/2020

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

This is a Quick Action Transmittal. These revisions do not change or introduce new policy or procedure.

Summary of Changes

GN 03910.025 Authority of Appointed Representatives

 

GN 03910.040 Appointment of a Representative

 

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

  • deciding whether to appeal 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 03910.040 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, MCS, 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 TN 15 - Representation of Claimants - 4/02/2020