Representing Social Security Claimants

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Electronic Records Express
Frequently Asked Questions

News Updates

Tips and Best Practices for Appointed Representatives

On April 12, we published a revised “Tips and Best Practices for Appointed Representatives” document. It is located under the Resources, Fact Sheets and Guides tab on this landing page. The fact sheet includes updated information about registration for direct fees, appointment procedure, and fee payment options.

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

On October 18, 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, 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.

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 you submit the online application on behalf of the applicant, the agency will attempt to contact him or her directly by telephone to verify the applicant’s intent to file, confirm the information provided, and to give him or her the opportunity to provide a verbal signature for the application and other relevant documents. We will also mail the applicant a copy of the Application Summary, which he or she can sign and return to us instead using the telephone signature process.
  • 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

Important Reminder

Representatives should use one channel only (online, mail, or fax to submit appointment-related forms and/or other evidentiary documents. Duplicate submissions may result in delays in processing the documents.

Registration for Appointed Representative Services and Direct Payment (Form SSA-1699)

Claimant’s Appointment of a Representative (Form SSA-1696)

Request for Business Entity Taxpayer Information (Form SSA-1694) Online and Paper Versions

Learn more about how we use the forms above, as they relate to registration for appointed representative services and direct payment of fees.

Petition to Obtain Approval of Fees (Form SSA-1560)

Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (Form SSA-827)

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 (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.

Note: When a representative wants to request a fee from the claimant(s)/auxiliary beneficiary(ies) and a third-party, we must authorize all fees since the above criteria are not met (i.e., claimant or auxiliary beneficiaries are liable for a fee), hence the representative should disclose any payments from a third-party prior to authorization.