Aug 25, 2015

What's A Signature?

     With Adobe Acrobat it is possible to send Social Security forms to claimants via e-mail and for those claimants to sign the forms with their mouse if they're using a desktop or using their finger if they're using a smartphone or tablet. Is that sort of signature acceptable to Social Security? Is there a policy on this? If there isn't a policy, shouldn't there be? Doesn't 15 U.S.C. §7001 require Social Security to accept this form of signature?
     I'm not asking these questions because I'd like for the Social Security Administration to use this method of collecting signatures. It's fine with me if they do but that's not my point in asking. I'm asking because I'd like to use this method so that my clients can quickly sign the necessary paperwork so I can represent them.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

We commonly send papers to clients for electronic signature. We send them an e-mail, they click on the link, electronically sign the documents, and e-mail them back to us. We've never encountered any difficulty with Social Security with this method. Our more "computer-friendly" clients appreciate this method and it saves us time and postage and paper. I'd recommend you give it a try.

Anonymous said...

It is a great tool to use. You save the document as a PDF then send it to the client attached to a web based dash board. Within minutes the client returns the form with the signature. It saves the 3-4 day mail time and any follow up calls to the clients to return the document. There been no problems with SSA in regards to signatures.
LR - Disability Law Firm

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the Social Security Administration requires traditional wet (pen and ink) signatures on 1696s, 827s, and fee agreements. They do not accept electronic signatures created through a claimant's use of a mouse or stylus. Their position is that this requirement protects a claimant's privacy as well as program integrity.

Anonymous said...

2:00: we've never had a problem by SSA with our electronically signed 1696s, 827s and fee agreements.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting topic. I would really like to be able to use electronic signatures, however my understanding is the same as 2:00 and in fact I have been investigated by OGC on the suspicion of using electronic signatures even though I do not.

Anonymous said...

Our firm has used electronic signatures for about 1 year for each attorney. However, we still get the client's pen signature on a 1696 and fee agreement. We just scan in the attorney's signature. But since everything is scanned, a pen signature is almost pointless.

Really the SSA should be about intent. In civil law, a person can make a mark and then acknowledge that was their mark and that should be enough even in those contracts under the Statute of Frauds. If a client shows up with an attorney and there is a reasonable fee agreement/1696, then the SSA should not question the intent of documents.

SSA is really behind the times. It is similar to how they will not acknowledge law firms and need a fresh 1696 every time. Other civil courts acknowledge law firms. Why not the SSA?

Anonymous said...

The claimants can sign an electronic 827 on the Social Security web site when they apply. It is in fact what they ----SSA--prefer. No need for an attorney. Many. Medical sources however do not accept the e-827 resulting in a lot of wasted time. Also at least at DDS we are not allowed to send or ask for anything by email except for a few isolated sources.

Anonymous said...

@2:46 pm

"...in fact I have been investigated by OGC on the suspicion of using electronic signatures even though I do not."

I think I'll wait on electronic signatures until things get sorted out.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is OK with sending a SSN via an unsecured email server is nuts.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that SSA is so paranoid about email and security when fax and email is just as insecure. Privacy is an illusion these days.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should be paranoid about emailing a social security number.

Anonymous said...

If you're concerned about SSNs, you can leave that info blank on the forms you e-mail. When the client returns the electronically signed documents, you can just manually write in the SSN yourself before submitting them to SSA.

Anonymous said...

The bigger problem is SSA's unwillingness to catch up with the times and follow the applicable law relative to electronic signatures - they are actually required by law to accept them. Pretty sure that many reps are flying under the radar using them and generally it's impossible to decipher whether it was a wet signature since most of the documents are ultimately faxed anyway.

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