Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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Appointing a representative for claiming SSD benefits -- Part I

Many Newark, New Jersey, residents would agree that despite the guidelines provided by the Social Security Administration, filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits can be challenging, especially for those who are severely disabled. The SSA acknowledges this difficulty and allows claimants to use a representative to help with SSA dealings.

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

According to SSA 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, which must be approved by the SSA. When the claimant and the representative sign a fee agreement, the representative must ask the SSA to approve it. It is important to remember that a representative cannot charge an SSD benefits claimant more than the SSA approved amount. If the representative asks for more, the SSA may suspend or disqualify that person from acting as a representative in the future.

The SSA will approve the agreement and 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, they will inform the claimant in writing.

When filing a fee petition, the representative is required to submit the 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.

Source: SSA.gov, "Your Right to Representation," Accessed on June 12, 2015

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