Right to Representation
Social Security Administration
SSA Publication No. 05-10075
Your Right To Representation
|You can choose to have a representative
help you when you do business with Social Security. We will work
with your representative, just as we would with you.
Your representative cannot charge or collect a fee from you without first getting written approval from the Social Security Administration, even if your claim is denied. However, your representative may accept money in advance as long as he or she holds it in a trust or escrow account.
Both you and your representative are responsible for providing Social Security with accurate information. It is wrong to knowingly and willingly furnish false information. Doing so may result in criminal prosecution.
What A Representative Can Do
Once appointed, your representative can act for you in most Social Security matters. For example, he or she can:
Your representative also will receive a copy of the decision(s) we make on your claim(s).
Choosing A Representative
You can choose an attorney or other qualified person to represent you. You also can have more than one representative.
Some organizations can help you find an attorney or give you free legal
services if you qualify. Some attorneys don't charge unless you receive benefits. Your Social Security office has a list of organizations that can help you find a representative.
You can appoint one or more persons in a firm, corporation or other organization as your representative(s), but you may not appoint the firm, corporation or organization itself. You also may not appoint a person who has been suspended or disqualified from representing others before the Social Security Administration or who may not, by law, act as a representative.
Once you choose a representative, you must tell us in writing as soon as possible. To do this, you can get a Form SSA-1696-U4, Appointment of Representative, from any Social Security office.
You must give the name of the person you are appointing and sign your name. If the person is not an attorney, he or she must, in writing, give his or her name; state that he or she accepts the appointment; and sign the form.
What Your Representative May Charge
To charge you a fee for his or her services, your representative first must file either a fee agreement or a fee petition with us. Your representative cannot charge you more than the fee amount we approved. If either you or your representative disagree with the fee we approved, you or your representative can ask us to look at it again.
A representative who charges or collects a fee without our approval, or charges or collects too much, may be suspended or disqualified from representing anyone before the Social Security Administration. He or she also may face criminal prosecution.
Filing A Fee Agreement
If you and your representative have a written fee agreement, your representative may ask us to approve it any time before we decide your claim. Usually, we'll approve the agreement and tell you in writing how much your representative may charge as long as:
Filing A Fee Petition
Your representative may give us a fee petition when he or she has finished working on your claim(s). This written request, accounting for the fee, describes in detail the amount of time spent on each service provided. Your representative must give you a copy of the fee petition and each attachment. If you disagree with the information shown, contact us within 20 days. We will consider the reasonable value of the services provided and tell you in writing the amount of the fee we approve.
How Much You Pay
The amount of the fee we decide your representative may charge is the most you owe him or her, except for out-of-pocket expenses. It might be different from the amount you agreed to pay.
If an attorney represents you, we usually withhold 25 percent of your past-due benefits to pay toward the fee for you. Later, we pay the attorney's fee from this money and send you any money left over.
You must pay your representative directly:
Also, you must pay directly for out-of-pocket expenses your representative incurs or expects to incur, such as the cost of getting your doctor's or hospital records. Our approval is not needed for such expenses.
If Someone Else Pays Your Representative
Even when someone else will pay the fee for you (for example, an insurance company), we must approve the fee unless:
If You Go Before A Federal Court
The court can allow a reasonable fee for your attorney. The fee usually will not exceed 25 percent of all past-due benefits which result from the court's decision. Your attorney cannot charge any additional fee for services before the court.
For More Information
If you have any questions about your right to representation, call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.
The Social Security Administration treats all calls confidentially--whether they're made to our toll-free number or to one of our local offices. We also want to ensure that you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why we have a second Social Security representative listen to some incoming and outgoing telephone calls.
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