Every person has the right to be represented by an attorney or other representative while pursuing a claim or other rights under titles II, XVI, and XVIII of the Social Security Act. This site contains information and links to assist both claimants and their representatives through the benefit and appeals processes.

News Update

On August 24, 2017, we revised the way we calculate fee shares to representatives under the fee agreement process. Previously, when multiple appointed representatives from the same entity signed on a single fee agreement, we split the authorized fee in equal shares among all representatives. If a representative waived his or her right to a fee, we included that representative in our calculations. 

Under the new policy, we will no longer consider any representative in our calculations who has waived the right to a fee. We will simply divide the authorized fee among those representatives who did not waive their right to a fee. These changes unify the fee splitting processes for representatives from different and same entities. The new policy is in section GN 03920.050 of our Program Operation Manual System (POMS) and applies to all new filings made on or after 8/24/17.

Our Office of Hearings Operation (OHO) is reporting great success of its Representative Video Project (RVP) initiative. In 2008, OHO introduced the RVP that allows representatives and their clients to participate in Administrative Law Judge hearings from their own office video sites. OHO signed up a certified RVP site and held the first hearing using the RVP site in October of that year. Since that time, RVP has expanded to 83 certified RVP sites nationwide that have held over 30,000 RVP hearings. RVP saves valuable time and reduces costs to attend a hearing. To learn more about this successful program view our factsheet.

On April 18, 2016, we published a Federal Register Notice (FRN) mandating the use of Appointed Representative Services (ARS) by representatives who request direct payment of their authorized fees.  These appointed representatives will have an affirmative duty to go online to access their clients’ disability files at the hearings and Appeals Council levels beginning August 16, 2016, the effective date of the mandate. Using ARS to access disability files online is advantageous because the appointed representative can view all documents in real-time, and not just the exhibit list that we currently burn to CDs. In addition, eFolder access provides uploading and downloading capabilities for electronic cases pending at the hearing and Appeals Council level. For information on how to enroll for eFolder access, visit Enroll for eFolder Access & Direct Payment.

On April 20, 2015, the “Submission of Evidence” CFR revisions became effective. Claimants are now required to inform SSA/DDS about or submit all known evidence that relates to whether or not they are blind or disabled. Representatives must also be diligent and prompt in helping claimants obtain and submitting this evidence. We have revised our rules of professional conduct to reflect this additional responsibility for the representatives. We may refer representatives who are non-compliant with this responsibility to the appropriate office for possible investigation and sanctions or penalties. Review 80 FR 14828 for additional changes to the CFR related to submission of evidence .

How Representatives Can Help

A claimant may appoint a qualified individual to represent him or her in doing business with Social Security. The appointment must be in writing and must be filed with SSA. If the claimant appoints a representative, the representative generally cannot charge or collect a fee for those services without first getting written approval from the Social Security Administration, even if the claim is denied. To get this approval, the representative must use one of Social Security's fee authorization processes.

If you are helping someone prepare an Internet Social Security Benefit Application:

  • You cannot electronically sign the application on behalf of the applicant. Only the person you are helping can electronically sign his or her Internet Social Security Benefit Application and attest to the accuracy of the information provided.
  • If the applicant wishes to appoint you as his or her official representative, we will need a written statement appointing you to represent him or her in dealings with Social Security. You may use a Form SSA-1696 (Appointment of Representative) for this purpose.

If you are helping someone appeal a denied disability application, depending on the reason, you may be required to file the appeal online. If the application is denied for:

Forms Frequently Used by Representatives

Information for Third Party Entities that Pay Representational Fees

Prior to charging or collecting a fee from a claimant or a third party for services provided in any proceeding before the Social Security Administration (SSA), a representative generally must obtain SSA's authorization.

The regulations at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1720 and 416.1520 provide that when a third-party entity pays the representative's fee and certain conditions are met, the SSA does not need to authorize the representative's fee. SSA does not need to authorize the fee under the following conditions:

  • The claimant and any auxiliary beneficiaries are free of direct or indirect financial liability to pay a fee or expenses, either in whole or in part, to a representative or to someone else; and
  • A third-party entity, or a government agency from its own funds, pays the fee and expenses incurred, if any, on behalf of the claimant and any auxiliary beneficiaries; and
  • The representative submits to SSA a form SSA-1696-U4 (or a written statement) waiving the right to charge and collect a fee and expenses from the claimant and any auxiliary beneficiaries as specified in GN 03920.020B.3b.