Identification Number:
GN 03910 TN 21
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. 21, 08/11/2020

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 03910.020 Qualifications for and Recognition of Representatives

We inserted the examples from GN 03970.011A and GN 03970.011B into GN 03910.020A.1 and GN 03920.020A.2 because they are more appropriate in this section.

GN 03910.020 Qualifications for and Recognition of Representatives

If a claimant would like to appoint a representative to help him or her in pursuing a pending claim, matter, or issue, we require the representative:

  • 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, we recognize a representative's appointment on a pending claim, matter, or issue. See 20 CFR 404.1703 and 416.1503 for a definition of "representational services."

Any individual can provide general assistance to a claimant on a pending claim, matter, or issue without being appointed as a "representative."

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.

A. Qualifications for representatives

1. Attorney representatives

Attorney representatives must:

  • be in good standing and admitted to practice before the highest court in at least one state, territory, district, or island possession of residence, or before the Supreme Court or a lower Federal Court;

  • not be disqualified or suspended from acting as a representative, either by us or another Federal agency; and

  • not be prohibited by any law from acting as a representative.

If you discover that an attorney who is currently or was previously appointed as a representative has been suspended or disbarred from any court or bar based on misconduct or disqualified or suspended from participating in any Federal program or appearing before any Federal agency based on misconduct, refer him or her to the Office of General Counsel (OGC) following the instructions in GN 03970.017 and GN 03970.070. Continue to recognize that attorney as the claimant's appointed representative unless and until the agency disqualifies or suspends him or her and the decision is final. An attorney representative is eligible for direct payment of his or her authorized fee(s) unless he or she is no longer admitted to practice in at least one jurisdiction. See GN 03910.020A.3 for information on record-keeping requirements related to disqualifications and suspensions of appointed representatives and GN 03970.011 for procedure on handling pending claims, matters, or issues with a potentially unqualified representative.

2. Non-attorney representatives

Non-attorney representatives must:

  • be generally known to have good character and reputation;

  • be capable of giving valuable help to the claimant in connection with the pending claim, matter, or issue;

  • not be disqualified or suspended from acting as a representative, either by us or another Federal agency; and

  • not prohibited by any law from acting as a representative.

We assume that the non-attorney representative seeking appointment by the claimant meets the statutory and regulatory requirements unless there is evidence showing otherwise.

Individuals lacking good character and reputation include but are not limited to individuals who have a final conviction of a felony (as defined by 20 CFR 404.1506(c)) or any crime involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, false statements, misrepresentation, deceit, or theft; a civil monetary liability in any matter involving the Social Security Act; a disbarment or suspension from any court or bar based on misconduct (in those situations where the non-attorney representative is a former attorney); a disqualification or suspension, based on misconduct, from participating in any Federal program or appearing before any Federal agency; a finding by the agency or a court that as a representative payee, the individual misused benefit payments; a debarment from acting as a contractor with any Federal or State agency; a revocation of any professional license issued by a state or local government; or acceptance of direct fee payment from us for representational services when the non-attorney representative knows he or she is ineligible for direct payment.

If you discover that an individual who is currently or has previously been appointed as a non-attorney representative does not meet all of the aforementioned qualifications, refer him or her to OGC following instructions in GN 03970.017 and GN 03970.070. Continue to recognize and conduct business with this non-attorney representative as the claimant's appointed representative unless and until the agency disqualifies or suspends him or her and the decision is final. See GN 03910.020A.3 for information on record-keeping requirements related to disqualifications and suspensions of appointed representatives and GN 03970.011 for procedure on handling pending claims, matters, or issues with a potentially unqualified representative.

Additionally, if you discover that a prospective non-attorney representative (i.e., a non-attorney representative who is not currently appointed and has not previously been appointed) does not meet all of the aforementioned qualifications, contact the appropriate OGC office using the electronic or physical addresses listed in GN 03970.070. In such situations, do not recognize the appointment until OGC provides guidance on whether the individual meets the qualifications to serve as a non-attorney representative.

3. Record-keeping requirement

  • OGC enters and maintains information related to disqualifications and suspensions of appointed representatives in the Registration, Appointment and Services for Representatives (RASR) application. See GN 03970.017 for information on professional conduct.

  • Do not inform claimants or their representatives of referrals to OGC or delay processing of any pending action.

B. Appointed representatives must be individuals

We will only recognize individuals as appointed representatives. We do not recognize organizations, firms, partnerships, or other entities as representatives.

If the claimant attempts to appoint an entity or organization as his or her representative, do not recognize the entity or organization as the representative and follow the instructions in GN 03910.040B.6.

NOTE: A claimant may consent to disclosure of records to an entity or organization, as explained in GN 03910.025B.2.b.

C. Appointing multiple representatives

A claimant may appoint more than one individual as his or her representative. See GN 03910.040C on how to process appointments of multiple representatives.

D. Types of general assistance not considered representational services

Any individual can provide general assistance to a claimant on a claim, matter, or issue without being appointed as a representative. Examples of general assistance include:

  • accompanying a claimant to an appointment or our offices; or

  • providing general help or casual advice.

However, if this individual wishes to act in an ongoing role as the claimant’s representative, the claimant must appoint him or her as a representative. See GN 03910.025 for information on authority of appointed representatives and GN 03910.040 for appointment of a representative.

NOTE: 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 them as his or her representative.

E. When the type of general assistance provided to the claimant is not clear

During the course of an interview or other administrative process, if an individual is assisting the claimant but it is not clear whether this individual is informally helping or acting as the claimant's representative, we will:

  • advise the claimant regarding his or her right to representation, as explained in GN 03910.030, and our fee authorization processes, as explained in GN 03920.000; and

  • tell the claimant that if he or she would like that individual to act on his or her behalf as a representative, he or she must appoint the person. See GN 03910.040 for information on the appointment of representative.


GN 03910 TN 21 - Representation of Claimants - 8/11/2020