Can you use a representative when Filing for Disability?
If a Social Security disability applicant needs help applying a representative can be assigned.
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
When it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, the word “disability” is defined being unable to work. Ironically, filing a disability claim requires a lot of what would normally be considered work- filling out forms, attending appointments and hearings, etc.
Many people with disabilities are unable to complete the process by themselves.
It’s easy to see how those with disabilities may face obstacles in regards to their application. Someone with vision issues may have difficulty reading the forms, someone with mental illness may have trouble following instructions, someone with mobility issues may have problems getting to hearings. If you have a friend or family member with a disability that impedes their ability to file for benefits, you can help them.
If you are helping someone apply, there are a few fields on the application that ask about your relationship to the applicant.
If you are simply assisting a friend or family member apply for benefits, then you need not take on the role of “representative”. Simply fill out the information for them as needed and have the applicant sign the completed application. If the applicant is legally incompetent or is physically unable to sign, then it is not necessary for them to sign the application. Their caretaker, representative or a family member may sign on their behalf, but it is not required.
If you need help applying for disability benefits or appealing a denied claim contact the experienced SS Disability lawyers at 512-454-4000
However, once the application is submitted, it becomes more difficult for a third party to help on the applicant’s behalf.
The Social Security Administration has strict rules about dealing with the appropriate person. Social Security will not make changes to benefits without speaking to the beneficiary or their representative payee. Like most federal agencies, the Social Security Administration does not recognize Power of Attorney. Power of attorney is a legal principle which allows one person to make certain decisions on another individual’s behalf. Instead of accepting power of attorney, the Social Security Administration requires that the beneficiary appoint a representative payee. This is problematic because having a “representative payee” legally denotes that the beneficiary is incompetent; whereas power of attorney is not always contingent on the principal’s incompetence.
In many cases, the applicant may wish to appoint a representative.
This position entails much more accountability and effort than simply helping fill out an application. In order to appoint a representative, the applicant will need to complete a Form SSA-1696. The representative must meet a few qualifications:
The representative must be an individual rather than an organization (the applicant should list their lawyer specifically rather than the entire firm).
Although, the applicant may appoint as many individual representatives as they wish.
If the representative is an attorney, they must have the right to practice law in the US, must not be disqualified from dealings with the Social Security Administration, and not be prohibited by any law from acting as a representative.
If the representative is not an attorney, they must be generally known to have a good reputation, capable of giving valuable help in connection with your claim, must not be disqualified from dealings with the Social Security Administration, and not be prohibited by any law from acting as a representative.
Additionally, the representative may be disqualified at the discretion of the Commissioner if they have been disbarred, disqualified or suspended from practicing or appearing in any court, Federal program or agency where they were previously allowed to practice.
Some of the qualifications are subjective- such as “generally known to have good character”, and the applicant may have their chosen representative denied if the Social Security Administration decides they do not meet that standard.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Because of his extensive litigation experience Mr. Roach is board certified from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas trial lawyers association, has been active in the Austin Bar Association and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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