Mar 12, 2015

Does Social Security Have A Policy On This?

     The Social Security Administration allows electronic signatures on its Form SSA-827, "Authorization To Disclose Information To The Social Security Administration." The agency allows most claims and appeals to be filed online. What about Form SSA-1696, "Appointment of Representative." What about fee agreements between attorneys and their clients? Does Social Security have a policy on acceptance of electronic signatures on these forms? Are "wet" signatures still required?


Anonymous said...

Don't even get me started on the asinine approach SSA takes to the 1696 and fee agreement. Our firm (four attorneys) uses stamped signatures as a matter of course. Most ALJs don't bat an eye at this, but some employees (particularly at the payment center) make a fuss of it.

Anonymous said...

The 1696 is supposed to be signed contemporaneously by the claimant and the rep.

TruthBtold said...

Straight from POMS GN03910.040

Although it is not required that attorneys sign the notice, SSA strongly encourages the practice; by signing the notice of appointment representatives certify that they meet certain qualifications and will abide by the Act and regulations concerning fees.
Either an attorney or non-attorney may use a rubber stamp to sign the notice. SSA will accept a rubber-stamped signature unless there is a reason to doubt that it represents the intent of the representative to accept the appointment.

Anonymous said...

Using rubber stamps is a program violation and can get you sanctioned by SSA. No, it is not permitted on anything but 827 currently.

Anonymous said...

@3:50PM. Can you point to anything other than your opinion? The POMS seems pretty clear that you can. I'm not sure how its a policy violation if the POMS authorizes it.

Here is the link, look for yourself.

If there is something authoritative you can point us to, I'd appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Sanctions? Really? We've been using signature stamps for years with no issues.

We've just started sending some clients the initial papers electronically for their electronic signature and e-mail return. We haven't received any problems yet from SS, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

I, too, share the frustrations about SSA not allowing a client to hire a firm. So much time, postage and paper is wasted by us and SSA with duplicate 1696s and fee agreements because the attorney attending the hearing may not be the original attorney on the file. This extends all the way to the payment center that sends us 2 fee checks of 50% of the fee made out to two different attorneys in the firm for one case. Fix this one issue and the trust fund problem will be solved!

Anonymous said...

3:50, step away from the Kool-Aid and no one gets hurt!

Anonymous said...

I work in an RO. POMS is not binding on ODAR and it is a call made by each RCALJ as to whether wet signatures are needed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:17

Actually POMS is binding on ODAR and your RCALJ and every SSA Adjudicator. The commissioner clarified this with SSR 13-2p back in March 2013.

BFDow said...

POMS GN 03910.040:
The regulations provide that to appoint a representative, the claimant must:

sign a written notice appointing the person to be his or her representative in dealings with SSA and

file the notice with SSA.

Although it is not required that attorneys sign the notice, SSA strongly encourages the practice

Either an attorney or non-attorney may use a rubber stamp to sign the notice.

SSA also accepts a photocopy or facsimile of an original signed notice of appointment when it is not included with another document. However, in either situation, the original document or notice of appointment retained by either party must contain the claimant’s signature in ink.

Anonymous said...

POMS is a lot like the Pirate Code in the movies. More like guidelines, open to the whims of CRs across the country and ODAR takes it to a whole different level with the arrogance they display. PC, seems to have a secret copy of POMS for the things they want to pull.

Anonymous said...

9:38, 13-2p deals with evaluating DAA cases, not the applicability of DO operations policy on ODAR.

Anonymous said...

Hallex I-1-1-11 ( has the same instructions as the POMS reference previously cited.

"A photocopy or facsimile of a notice of appointment is acceptable. We will also accept a rubber-stamped signature of the representative unless there is a reason to doubt that it represents the intent of the representative to accept the appointment."

Anonymous said...

A paper form cannot be signed electronically. An electronic signature is an electronic process. It has no meaning outside of the electronic process itself. Printing on a piece of paper that the paper was "electronically signed" is meaningless, independent of the electronic process used. If someone sent you a piece of paper that said it was electronically signed by me, you would be unable to determine whether it was generated by an "electronic signature" process or simply some text that someone had printed. There are also "facsimile" signatures which can be printed on paper, which is probably what you are referring to when you speak about electronically signing a 1696. These too have no electronic integrity and could be affixed by anyone.

Anonymous said...

12:35: the method we use to have clients electronically sign the 1696, fee agreement and medical authorizations is to e-mail them a link with the documents. The client opens the link and "signs" each document using their mouse. So there is an actual signature created - similar to signing the pad at a store after a credit card purchase. The client then e-mails the documents right back to us. I don't see how this is any different then using a pen to apply a "wet" signature.

Anonymous said...

I can't get over how some people inside SSA think the POMS, etc. don't apply to all agency employees.

Go ahead and even hint that you feel that way to folks really high up the food chain next time one of them is in your office and see how quickly they let you know you're wrong and tank your career ;)

Just think of what these things are. Sure, there are a lot of these provisions that restate stuff from the Act or the Regs, etc., but most of them are gap fillers. They are SSA's interpretation of incomplete law and application to real-life situations its employees and claimants run into.

Outside people challenging POMS, HALLEX, etc. in Federal courts can be successful because those sources of law are internal only interpretations of the (ambiguous) sources of law that apply to everyone. Maybe the courts will interpret things differently, who knows? But make no mistake--we employees are bound by these internal-only gap fillers unless and until some body that can overrule SSA--a federal court, congress, executive order, etc.--does so.

How hard is that to understand?

Anonymous said...

Apparently hard.

No doubt, the Commissioner was advised in 2013 that those challenging POMS, HALLEX, etc. in Federal courts and elsewhere, needed to better understand the regulations.

Thus for those like 11:25 Anonymous who believe “SSR 13-2p deals with evaluating DAA cases, not the applicability of DO operations policy on ODAR”
The commish advised they were wrong, just wrong.

The Ruling released in March 2013 simply clarified the regulations for ALL agency policy.

The language in the ruling
(15.a) reminds that sections 205(a) and (b) and 1631(c) and (d) of the Act require adjudicators at all levels of administrative review to follow agency policy, as set out in the Commissioner's regulations, SSRs, Social Security Acquiescence Rulings (ARs), and other instructions, such as the Program Operations Manual System (POMS), Emergency Messages, and the Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law manual (HALLEX).

There is not a word in that reminder, clarification et al that limits the requirement to DAA cases.

Change is hard.

Anonymous said...

If everything works right this weekend, come Monday appeal submitters will be able to upload scanned documents (such as a 1696/fee agreement, 827, etc) with an iAppeal filing.

We'll see how well it works, though.