Representing Social Security Claimants

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Electronic Records Express
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News Updates - Archives

Representing Social Security Claimants

New online service - Electronic filing of a representative's fee agreement  

On October 18, 2021, we released a new service to allow appointed representatives to initiate an electronic fee agreement (e1693). As with the e1696, representatives and their claimants can use this process to complete, sign, and submit the e1693 form entirely electronically. This is a multi-step process and allows the claimant and up to six representatives to sign the same fee agreement. The e1693 cannot be used if more than six representatives need to sign the fee agreement on a single claim.   We developed this service to provide added flexibility to our customers, but we will continue to accept paper submissions of fee agreements via mail, eFax, or uploaded through our filing portals and Electronic Records Express. The link to the e1693 is located near the top left of this page if you would like to bookmark it for future use.

New online service - Electronic filing of a representative's notice of appointment  
On March 8, 2021, we released a new service to allow representatives to initiate an SSA-1696 notice of appointment online where they and their claimants can complete, sign and submit the form electronically with no personal contact. This is a two-step process the representative must initiate. Once the claimant completes the second step and submits the signed document, the service will automatically route the document for processing. This service will help expedite the appointment process and give representatives and claimants flexibility. We will continue to accept submissions of appointment notices via mail, eFax, or uploaded through our filing portals and Electronic Records Express as before. The link to the e1696 is located at the top left of this page, so be sure to bookmark it!

Temporary procedure announced for written notices of appointment and fee agreements to enhance flexibility during the COVID-19 emergency

On May 21, 2020, we announced temporary procedures to allow claimants to use different methods to sign the notice of appointment of a representative and fee agreement, if the fee agreement is submitted with the new notice of appointment, during the current COVID-19 health emergency. While these procedures are in place, if we receive an appointment document (e.g., Form SSA 1696) and the claimant’s signature does not appear to be in pen-and-ink (e.g., looks like an electronic signature), we will make three attempts to contact the claimant to verify his or her identity and confirm the signature. If we verify the identity and signature, we will process the appointment as usual. If we cannot reach the claimant and he or she does not return our call, or does not verify the signature, we will return the paperwork to the person who submitted it without recognizing the appointment.

We also have temporary procedures in place permitting claimants to verbally appoint a representative during a “remote” telephone hearing with an administrative law judge, if they subsequently submit a written notice of appointment. In this situation, we also will accept an alternate (e.g., electronic) format of the claimant’s signature on the written appointment notice, but without the need for additional telephone contact.

Beginning on 3/11/21 we augmented these temporary procedures to include instructions for technicians to follow when certain additional electronically signed forms (SSA-16, SSA-8000, SSA-8001, SSA-L2, SSA-820, SSA-821, SSA-827, SSA-455) are submitted along with the electronically signed SSA-1696. We also added an additional claimant contact step. After one unsuccessful attempt at reaching the claimant over the telephone, we also will send a call-in letter to the claimant and the prospective representative.

These temporary procedures and more details can be found at COVID-19 Temporary Instructions.

Direct payment to Representatives and Forms IRS 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC

Effective January 2021, we must use the new Forms IRS 1099-NEC (Nonemployee Compensation) and revised IRS 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) to report aggregate fees of more than $600 that we directly paid appointed representatives in 2020. The PowerPoint presentation on this landing page illustrates these changes and can help readers understand how income will be reported on these tax documents this year and onward.

Requiring Electronic Submission of Evidence by Certain Claimant Representatives

On October 5, 2020 we published a Federal Register Notice “Requiring Electronic Submission of Evidence by Certain Claimant Representatives." This notice announces a new requirement that all representatives who request direct fee payment must submit all evidence electronically in Title II and XVI disability claims using either Electronic Records Express (ERE), Appointed Representative Services (ARS) or iAppeals if the case is electronic and is pending at either the hearings or Appeals Council levels. The new requirement will be effective on November 4, 2020, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Expanded Access to the Electronic File at the Initial and Reconsideration Levels

On 9/19/2020, we expanded access to the electronic claim file (eFolder) to include claims at the initial and reconsideration levels, as well as continuing disability review cases. A representative can now view documents in the Disability Related Development (section E) and Medical Evidence (section F) sections of the eFolder after we receive and process the written notice of appointment. If accessing a case at the initial or the reconsideration level is not possible, it is likely that we have not received or processed the appointment.

Access to documents at these levels is available to all appointed representatives who are already registered for eFolder access. We will continue the current process of registering representatives that have at least one case pending at the hearings level; however, representatives who are only appointed to cases at the initial and reconsideration levels are not eligible to register for eFolder access at this time.

It is important to remember that attempts within a 24-hour period, to access 10 records (Social Security Numbers) to which the representative is not appointed, will result in an account lockout, so representatives are advised to wait until they receive the notice confirming that we received and processed their appointment before accessing a record. A representative whose account has been blocked must contact the Electronic Records Express (ERE) Helpdesk to unblock the account.

Collateral Estoppel

On July 29, 2020, we updated the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) procedures on collateral estoppel determinations that updates and clarifies our policy, including that the jurisdiction lies solely with the Disability Determination Services (DDS) for initial and reconsideration claims.

The updates to collateral estoppel are in sections DI 11011.001, DI 12045.005, and DI 27515.000.  It applies to all new filings and pending claims on or after July 29, 2020.