A representative is an individual whom the claimant appoints to represent him or her in the claimant's dealings with us (i.e., to act on the claimant's behalf and pursue the claimant's interests). The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires the representative to meet certain qualifications, as explained in GN 03910.020A, and complete the appointment process, as explained in GN 03910.040.
If the representative meets these requirements, SSA recognizes the representative's appointment on a pending claim, matter, or issue. See GN 03910.001B for the definition of "pending claim, matter, or issue."
Once recognized by SSA, an appointed representative may, on behalf of the claimant:
obtain information about the pending claim, matter, or issue that SSA would generally provide to the claimant such as additional evidence, a consultative examination report submitted to the record, or our determination or decisions regarding the claim, matter, or issue;
be notified of any determinations or decisions regarding an affected auxiliary beneficiary, if applicable. See GN 03910.025C for information about representation of an affected auxiliary beneficiary and disclosure of his or her records;
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 any easy access to transportation);
make statements about facts and laws at a hearing (however, 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 the agency.
SSA does not require individuals such as friends, neighbors, or relatives to be appointed as the claimant's representative if these individuals want to provide general assistance to the claimant. However, the claimant must appoint anyone who will provide representational services. See GN 03910.020D for information on types of general assistance not considered "representational services."
A representative payee is not the same as an appointed representative. A representative payee is the person, agency, organization, or institution selected by SSA to receive benefits on behalf of a beneficiary who we have determined is unable to manage or direct management of benefit payments in his or her interest. So, a representative payee or legal guardian can provide general assistance to a claimant, but if he or she wants to provide "representational services," on behalf of the claimant, the claimant must appoint him or her as his or her representative. See 20 CFR
404.1703 and 416.1503 for a definition of "representational services."
1. Decision to appoint a representative
The decision to appoint a representative is for the claimant to make on his or her own. See GN
03910.040B.1 for information on who can appoint a representative.
2. Claimant expresses interest in appointing a representative
If an unrepresented claimant is interested in appointing a representative, the field office (FO) provides the following information:
a copy of Publication No. 05-10075, Social Security and Your Right to Representation;
Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative); and
a copy of the representative referral list.
NOTE 1: If the Disability Determination Services (DDS) receives a verbal inquiry from an unrepresented claimant about obtaining or establishing representation, ask the claimant to contact his or her servicing FO.
NOTE 2: On February 11, 2020, SSA published the revised Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative). The revised SSA-1696 incorporates information from the Form SSA-1695 and the Form SSA-1696-U4 and has two new supplements: SUP1 (Claimant's Revocation of the Appointment of a Representative) and SUP2 (Representative's Withdrawal of the Acceptance of an Appointment). The publication of the revised Form SSA-1696 makes the
Form SSA-1695 obsolete.
3. Claimant appoints a representative
To appoint a representative, a claimant must submit a signed, written notice stating an intent to appoint the individual as his or her representative. If the claimant is appointing an individual who is not an attorney, that individual must also sign the notice. See 20 CFR 404.1707 and 416.1507.
NOTE: Although SSA only requires a non-attorney representative to sign the written notice of appointment, SSA strongly encourages all representative, 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 an electronic method to sign the notice. SSA will accept the representative's signature unless there is reason to doubt his or her intent to accept the appointment.
The agency's Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative) or any other writing can satisfy this requirement as long as it contains certain information to show the claimant's intent to appoint the specified individual and if necessary, that individual's intent to agree to represent the claimant. See GN 03910.040D.2 for information SSA collects to process the appointment.
Only SSA components will process and recognize the claimant's appointment of a representative as explained in GN 03910.040D through GN 03910.040G.
4. Appointment confirmation notice to representatives
Beginning March 12, 2018, SSA has 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. If the representative is registered in RASR and the FO enters the representative's information into RASR, RASR will automatically send the appointment confirmation notice to the appointed representative and claimant. See GN
03905.035 for information on RASR appointment notices.
The FO notifies the DDS of the agency's acceptance of the appointment.
NOTE: The appointment confirmation notice indicates that we will deal directly with the representative on matters that concern the pending claim, matter, or issue. If the representative requests that SSA deal directly with the claimant, see DI 31001.010B.1.
5. Flagging and annotating the system when an appointed representative is involved
The FO will flag and annotate in the appropriate SSA systems when the claimant has appointed a representative consistent with GN 03910.040E.