Identification Number:
DI 31001 TN 7
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 DI – Disability Insurance
Chapter 310 – Representation of Claimants and Inquiries
Subchapter 01 – Representation of Claimants
Transmittal No. 7, 04/20/2020

Audience

PSC: CS, DE, DEC, DTE, IES, RECONR, SCPS, TSA, TST;
OCO-OEIO: CR, FDE, RECONE;
OCO-ODO: BET, CTE, CTE TE, DE, DEC, DS, RECONE, RECONR;
ODD-DDS: ADJ, DHU;

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

DI 31001.001 Claimant Representation

 

DI 31001.005 Disclosure to Entities and Non-Representatives

 

Conversion Table
Old POMS ReferenceNew POMS Reference
DI 31001.001DI 31001.001
DI 31001.005DI 31001.005

DI 31001.001 Representation of Claimants

A. Representation of claimants

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;

  • 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 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.

B. Addressing potential issues arising while the pending claim, matter, or issue is at DDS

Issues about representation may arise while the claimant’s case is at the DDS. Address any issues related to a claimant’s representation as outlined in this section.

1. DDS receives the appointed representative information or fee-related documents in the mail or via fax

When the DDS receives appointed representative information (e.g., Form SSA-1696 (Claimant's Appointment of a Representative), Form SSA-1699 (Registration for Appointed Representative Services Direct and Payment Information), or Section 5 of Form SSA-1696 (Representative's Status, Affiliations, and Certifications)) or fee-related documents (e.g., fee agreement or fee petition) in the mail or via fax, take the following steps:

  • Return the forms to the sender along with a copy of the “Dear Colleague” letter. See DI 31001.001D in this section.

    IMPORTANT: In the case of an appointment, do not enter a representative’s information into the DDS Legacy system or attach a Representative Involved flag to the case before receiving notification of the appointment from either the FO (via an Update after Transfer (UAT) or a Form SSA-5002, Report of Contact (ROC)) or hearing office (HO) (via an Assistance Request (AR) or ROC).

  • Document any changes to the claimant’s contact information (i.e., change of address or new phone number) received from the claimant via an AR to the FO.

  • Send the AR to the FO requesting an update of the claimant’s contact information. The FO will enter the information into the mainframe and do a UAT to the DDS. For electronic cases, do not manually enter the changes into the DDS Legacy system. For paper cases, the FO returns the completed form (if applicable) or provides a ROC describing the update. The DDS then enters the information into the Legacy system.

2. File unclear regarding representation

If the DDS cannot determine if the claimant has appointed a representative:

  1. a. 

    Telephone the FO for clarification; and

  2. b. 

    Record the FO’s response on a ROC for inclusion in the file.

3. DDS received information about the termination of the representative's appointment

The claimant may revoke the appointment of representation at any time. The representative may withdraw from representing the claimant at any time consistent with the rules explained in HALLEX I-1-1-30C.

SSA does have standard forms for the claimant's revocation or the representative's withdrawal: Form SSA-1696-SUP1 (Claimant's Revocation of the Appointment of a Representative) and Form SSA-1696-SUP2 (Representative's Withdrawal of Acceptance of an Appointment). These forms are not mandatory.

If the claimant or representative does not use these standard forms, he or she must submit the revocation or withdrawal in writing, sign it, and file it with SSA. The representative's appointment and authority continue until the FO receives a written notice of revocation or withdrawal. When the FO receives a written notice of revocation or withdrawal, the DDS will receive an alert via UAT. For paper claims, the FO will forward the written notice of revocation or withdrawal for placement in the paper folder - if the DDS did not provide the notice.

a. Verbal notification

If the claimant or the representative tells the DDS verbally (e.g., telephone or voice message) the representative’s appointment and authority ended, take the following steps:

  • Inform the claimant or representative to provide a signed and dated written notice to the servicing FO confirming the revocation or withdrawal.

  • Document the claims folder with a ROC detailing the verbal contact with the claimant or representative.

b. Written notification

If the DDS receives written notification, signed by the claimant or representative, that the representative’s appointment and authority ended, take the following steps:

  • Document the claims folder with a ROC detailing the revocation or withdrawal of representation.

  • Include the written notice of revocation or withdrawal in the electronic folder. For paper cases, send a copy of the written notice to the FO.

  • Document the revocation or withdrawal of representation via an AR to the FO.

4. Undesignated representative communicates with DDS

If a representative whose appointment has not yet been processed by SSA (i.e., undesignated representative) makes contact with the DDS, take the following steps:

  • Do not discuss any aspect of the claim or assume the undesignated representative is the appointed representative.

  • Obtain information from the undesignated representative making contact.

  • Prepare a ROC for inclusion in the file to document the call and include the undesignated representative's name, phone number, and address. Ensure that the ROC is included in the electronic or paper folder.

  • Inform the undesignated representative that appointment documents must be submitted to the FO.

  • Inform the FO about the contact with the undesignated representative (i.e., ROC) via an AR and document accordingly. For paper cases, send a copy of the ROC to the FO.

5. Questions on fees for representation

If DDS receives any inquiries about representative fees, refer the inquirer to the FO or SSA's website to obtain more information.

C. Case at the hearing or appeals level

When a case is at the hearing or appeals level, refer any inquiries to the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO) or the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO), as appropriate. OHO and OAO employees cannot enter appointment information into RASR and downstream systems such as the Modernized Claims System (MCS), the Modernized Supplemental Security Income Claims System (MSSICS), or the Electronic Disability Collect System (EDCS). At the hearing or appeals level, components must request FO assistance to make these entries. Otherwise, the FO and DDS have no knowledge of the appointment. Additionally, without recognition in RASR and these downstream systems, the representative does not receive copies of notices of determinations or decisions, notices or requests for development, notices of award, and notices related to the authorization of representative fees. Additionally, the omission may delay any possible fee payment.

NOTE: As noted above in DI 31001.001A.2, the publication of the revised Form SSA-1696 makes the Form SSA-1695 obsolete. If OHO or OAO receive a Form SSA-1695 along with the revised Form SSA-1696, they will follow instructions outlined in Section C.8 of EM 20004.

1. Process when the claim is pending at the hearing level (OHO)

When the HO receives and accepts a written notice of appointment (e.g., Form SSA-1696 or any other writing):

  • The HO enters the representative's information into the Case Processing and Management System (CPMS) and scans the written notice of appointment and any fee agreement into the Certified Electronic Folder (CEF).

  • The HO informs the FO of the appointment for input into RASR, MCS, MSSICS, or EDCS. As the claim progresses at the hearing level, the HO also notifies the FO, via an AR, of changes to the claimant's representation or contact information (i.e., change of address or new phone number).

  • If, for some reason, the appointed representative's information or claimant's contact information is not timely inputted and, as a result, the FO does not perform a UAT, the DDS will be unaware of the changes. If the HO requests the DDS to schedule a consultative examination, the HO includes the representative’s information or the claimant’s contact information with the AR sent to DDS. The HO also sends another AR to the FO asking that they input the appointment information into RASR, MCS, MSSICS, or EDCS.

2. Process when the claim is pending at the appeals level (OAO)

When OAO receives and accepts a written notice of appointment:

  • OAO enters the representative’s information into the Appeals Review Processing System (ARPS) and scans the written notice of appointment and any fee agreement into the CEF.

  • OAO faxes a copy of the written notice of appointment to the servicing FO to alert the FO of the need for input into RASR, MCS, MSSICS, or EDCS.

NOTE: OAO uses ARPS, not CPMS, for case processing. ARPS does not contain an automated assistance request functionality that communicates changes in the claimant's or representative's information.

D. Exhibit - DDS “Dear Colleague” letter

Dear (Mr. or Ms.) (Last Name):

We are returning the enclosed documents to you because the Disability Determination Services (DDS) cannot accept appointment or fee-related documents or forms. You must send these documents directly to the appropriate servicing Social Security Administration (SSA) office for processing. To locate the servicing office, please use the “Locate a Social Security office” link on SSA’s website: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/.

The DDS is not authorized to accept documents that relate to appointment of a representative or representative’s fees. Therefore, all these documents must be filed directly with an SSA office and not with a DDS office. We will continue to process the claimant’s application without acknowledging a representative until SSA has received and accepted the appointment. 

NOTE: Notices and correspondence will not be sent to a representative, and no past-due fees for services will be withheld for possible direct payment of fees for services, until proper appointment is made through the SSA office.           

To avoid any potential delays in processing the appointment or other documents, please submit the notice of appointment documentation directly to the servicing SSA office as soon as possible. For more information about representing claimants, visit the “Representing Social Security Claimants” page on SSA’s website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/representation.

Thank you for your cooperation.

(Name)

(Position)

(DDS Information)

 

                 

DI 31001.005 Claimant's Consent to Disclosure of his or her Records

A claimant must consent to the disclosure of his or her records to a specific individual or entity by completing either the 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, GN 03305.005 on who may consent to disclosure of records, and GN 03305.006 on who may not consent to disclosure of records.

A. Entity defined

An entity is any business, firm, or other association, including but not limited to partnerships, corporations, for-profit organizations, and not-for-profit organizations. See GN 03305.015 for information on disclosure to legal aid groups and private law firms.

B. Claimant's consent to disclosure does not authorize the individual or entity to act on the claimant's behalf

A claimant’s consent for SSA to disclose his or her records to an individual or entity does not authorize that individual or entity to act on the claimant’s behalf as his or her appointed representative. See GN 03910.020 for information on qualifications for and recognition of representatives and GN 03910.025 for information on authority of representatives.

NOTE: If a claimant wants more than general assistance on his or her pending claim from an individual, the claimant must appoint that individual as his or her representative as explained in GN 03910.040. However, if the claimant attempts to appoint an entity as his or her representative, SSA will not recognize the entity as the claimant's appointed representative and will follow the instructions in GN 03910.040B.6.

C. Further disclosure by an appointed representative or entity is generally not permitted

An appointed representative (including his or her designated associate) or entity should not disclose the claimant's information further without prior written consent from the claimant. See GN 03910.025B.2 for information on disclosure of records.


DI 31001 TN 7 - Representation of Claimants - 4/20/2020