Last Update: 10/13/11 (Transmittal I-1-62)
For a complete discussion of representative appointment issues, see the following sections in Program Operations Manual System (POMS) GN 03910.040:
see POMS GN 03910.040A for general policy;
see POMS GN 03910.040B for notice of appointment and supplemental appointment;
see POMS GN 03910.040D for multiple representatives appointed concurrently;
see POMS GN 03910.040E for multiple representatives appointed successively.
Ideally, a claimant or representative will file a notice of appointment at a field office (FO) if the claimant is filing an initial application or requesting reconsideration; at a hearing office (HO) if the claimant is requesting a hearing; or with the Appeals Council (AC) if the claimant is requesting review of the administrative law judge's decision. If a claimant or representative files a notice of appointment of a representative with any HO or with the AC, the HO or the AC will follow the procedures in I-1-1-11 to document the appointment. If the claimant changes representatives while the claim is pending review in an HO or the AC, 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.
Our regulations require non-attorneys to sign the notice of appointment. Although the regulations do not require attorneys to sign notices of appointment, we strongly encourage attorneys to sign Form SSA-1696-U6, Appointment of Representative. By signing the form, an attorney certifies that he or she meets certain qualifications and will abide by the Social Security Act and regulations governing fees.
The Social Security Administration does not recognize entities as representatives. An organization cannot represent a claimant. Thus, the claimant may not appoint as his or her representative a corporation, legal aid group, or a law firm but instead must specify an individual or individuals within the 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 accepting the appointment, we 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. The HO or AC must return the notice of appointment to the firm or organization with an explanation that an appointment must name a specific individual or individuals.