I-1-1-10.Appointing a Representative

Last Update: 12/17/19 (Transmittal I-1-94)

A. General

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will recognize a person as a representative when:

  • The claimant signs a written notice of appointment stating that the claimant wants the person to be the claimant's representative in dealings with SSA;

  • That person signs the notice of appointment, agreeing to be the claimant's representative, if the person is not an attorney. An attorney does not have to sign a notice of appointment (see note below); and

  • The notice of appointment is filed at a field office (FO) if the claimant initially filed a claim or requested reconsideration; with the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) if the claimant requested a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ); or with the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) if the claimant has requested a review of an ALJ's decision.

For convenience, SSA provides form SSA-1696-U4, Appointment of Representative, but any written document that meets the above requirements is a valid notice of appointment. See 20 CFR 404.1707 and 416.1507.

B. Appointment of Representative

Ideally, a claimant or representative will file a notice of appointment at an FO if the claimant files an initial application or requests reconsideration; with OHO if the claimant requests a hearing; or with OAO if the claimant requests review of an ALJ's decision. If a claimant or representative files a notice of appointment with OHO or OAO, OHO or OAO will follow the procedures in Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-1-1-11 to document the appointment.

NOTE:

The regulations require non-attorneys to sign the notice of appointment. See 20 CFR 404.1707(b) and 416.1507(b). Although the regulations do not require attorneys to sign notices of appointment, SSA strongly encourages attorneys to sign. By signing the notice of appointment, an attorney certifies that he or she meets certain qualifications and will abide by the Social Security Act and regulations governing fees.

C. Changes in Representation

If a claimant changes representatives while his or her claim is pending review with OHO or OAO, the claimant should execute a notice of appointment for the new representative and revoke the appointment of the prior representative if the claimant no longer wants his or her services. See HALLEX I-1-1-30 for how a claimant can revoke a representative's appointment.

D. Multiple Representatives

A claimant may appoint more than one person to serve as a representative but must appoint in writing each representative individually and must specify a principal representative.

E. An Organization Cannot Be a Representative

An organization cannot represent a claimant because SSA does not recognize entities or other organizations as representatives. Thus, a claimant must specify an individual or individuals within an organization as his or her representative(s).

If a claimant names a firm or an organization, and an individual working for the firm or organization signed the notice of appointment, SSA will recognize that individual as the claimant's representative. If a notice of appointment names a firm or an organization, but an individual working for the firm or organization did not sign the notice, the appointment is not valid. OHO or OAO staff must return the notice of appointment to the firm or organization with an explanation that an appointment must name a specific individual or individuals.