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Representation of Claimant

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

2017. Representation of Claimant

2017.1 Who can represent a claimant?

You may be represented by an attorney or any other qualified person at any or every step in the proceedings before us; e.g., initial determination, reconsideration, hearing, and/or Appeals Council review.

2017.2 Are there restrictions on who may represent a claimant?

The following restrictions apply:

  1. No one who has been suspended or disqualified by us from representing Social Security claimants or who is otherwise prohibited by law from acting as a representative may be appointed as your representative; and

  2. Only individuals may be appointed as representatives of claimants. A qualified member in a firm, labor union, or other organization may be appointed your representative, but the firm, labor union, etc. will not be recognized as a representative.

2017.3 How does a claimant appoint a representative?

To appoint a representative, whether an attorney or other individual, you must do so in writing over your own signature (preferably on a Form SSA-1696-U4, Appointment of Representative, available online at or at any Social Security office). File the written appointment with us. If the representative is not an attorney, he or she must also sign the SSA-1696-U4 or submit a written acceptance to us. It is not necessary for an attorney to accept the appointment in writing.

2017.4 What information is available to the representative?

The representative may obtain the same information about the claim that would be available to you when acting on your behalf.

2017.5 What actions may the representative take?

The representative may also submit evidence, make statements about facts and law, appear at an interview or hearing with or without you, and make any request or give any notice concerning the proceedings. He or she may not sign an application on your behalf for rights or benefits, or testify on your behalf in any administrative proceeding.

2017.6 How does SSA notify the representative?

We will send your representative a notice and a copy of any administrative action, determination, or decision, and requests for information or evidence. These notices or requests will have the same force and effect as if they had been sent to you.

Last Revised: Jul. 26, 2005


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