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Tuesday September 25, 2001

Tom Tobin, Acting Press Officer

For Immediate Release

410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973


Social Security Online

SOCIAL SECURITY

News Release

Social Security Unveils New "Representing Clients" Website

The Social Security Administration (SSA), recognizing the importance of timely and accurate information for those who represent claimants, today launched a new website on Social Security Online. "Representing Clients" provides comprehensive information for representatives and provides links to key SSA regulatory and program resources.

"This website was created as a service to the thousands of attorneys and other representatives who provide assistance to people who apply for Social Security benefits," said Larry G. Massanari, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. "The right to representation is extremely important and this is part of Social Security's continuing effort to enhance the claimant representation process."

The Social Security Act gives SSA the authority to approve fees for individuals representing Social Security claimants. In Social Security cases, when the representative is an attorney, SSA pays the fee directly to the attorney from the claimant's past-due benefits. In all other cases, SSA must approve the fee before a representative can charge a claimant for their services. Fees are most often authorized for representatives of claimants for disability benefits.

The website, located at www.ssa.gov/representation, contains information on SSA regulations and operating procedures, as well as links to the Social Security Handbook, Program Operations Manual System (POMS), and relevant sections of the Code of Federal Regulations. Specific information about the claimant representation process is provided by topic:

--Fee Petitions
--Fee Agreements
--Exceptions to the Fee Agreement Procedure
--Model Fee Agreement
--Standards of Conduct for Representatives
--Code of Federal Regulations
--Form SSA-1696 Appointment of Representative
--Form SSA-1560 Petition to Obtain Approval of Fees

A "frequently asked questions" section provides answers to commonly asked questions about representing clients. The website also provides statistics on payment of fees. From February 2000 through July 2001, for example, SSA paid more than 300,000 fees to attorneys totaling more than $700 million.

In addition to the new website, SSA provides a wide variety of publications that explain the disability application and appeals process. Publications providing information for representatives and claimants are available online at www.ssa.gov/pubs, through SSA's toll-free telephone service at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY number 1-800-325-0778), or at any local Social Security office.

Note: Copies of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security information and statistics,
are available at SSA’s Internet site, Social Security Online, at http://www.ssa.gov.
Also look there for information on subscribing to SSA’s
free electronic newsletter, Social Security e-news.

SSA Press Office 4-H-9 West High Rise 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

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