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Right to representation for claiming SSD benefits – Part I

| May 24, 2019 | Social Security Disability |

Many people in Mobile and nearby areas in Alabama may agree that, despite the guidelines provided by the Social Security Administration, filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits is often challenging, especially for those who are severely disabled. The SSA acknowledges this difficulty and, therefore, it grants SSD benefits claimants the right to representation when it comes to dealings with the SSA.

This representative can be an attorney or some other qualified person. However, someone disqualified by law or someone disqualified by the SSA cannot act as the representative. A claimant also has the option of appointing more than one representative if that is the requirement. After finalizing who the representative will be, the claimant must inform the SSA about the decision by using the SSA-1696-UF form.

Per the SSA’s existing rules, a representative may charge the claimant for representation. However, in order to obtain this payment, the representative must either sign a fee agreement or file a fee petition that has to be approved by the SSA. It is important to remember that a representative cannot charge a claimant an amount that is more than what the SSA approved. If the representative does ask for more, the SSA may suspend or disqualify that person from acting as a representative in the future.

If the SSD benefits claimant and the representative sign a fee agreement, the SSA must approve it. If the SSA approves the agreement, it informs the claimant in writing as long as the agreement is duly signed, the claim is approved and the fee is not more than 25 percent of the past-due benefits or $6,000, whichever is less. If the SSA does not approve the agreement, it informs the claimant in writing.

In the case of a fee petition, the representative is required to submit the said petition after the completion of work on the claims at issue. This petition must include details of all services provided. If the claimant disagrees with the petition, the objection must be raised with the SSA within 20 days. The SSA will recommend a fee, which the claimant can either accept or ask the SSA to reconsider within 30 days.

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