I received this gem from an SSA insider, with the insider's editorial comments in brackets.



Refer To: ACL 13-1175



August 8, 2013



All Hearing Office Personnel


Debra Bice /s/

Chief Administrative Law Judge


Providing Representative Referrals to Unrepresented Claimants– REMINDER


20 CFR 404.1706 and 416.1506 require that ALJs notify unrepresented claimants of their right to, and options for, obtaining a representative (See also HALLEX I-1-1-3 and POMS GN 03910.030).  However, any information furnished must be consistent with the Social Security Administration [newly announced] policy of neither encouraging nor discouraging representation.  ODAR personnel should not suggest or recommend that a claimant obtain representation. [A judge now is not allowed to tell a claimant that the case presents complex problems of fact or law that will weigh against him.  A judge may not advise the claimant that his chances of success are increased very significantly, recently by better than 50 %, by having representation.]


A representation referral list is the only referral information that may be provided to claimants. ODAR personnel may not recommend any specific attorney, firm, or organization. HALLEX I-1-1-3 requires that the hearing office (HO) must have available and distribute one or more lists of representative referral services and of legal service organizations provided by the field offices (FO) serviced by the HO. In addition, these lists must meet the following criteria:


  • any organization included on the list must indicate a willingness to appear on the list, be located in or close to the HO service area, or be able to refer a claimant to a participating service provider located in or close to the HO service area, and not make a profit from the referral service;

  • no individual person (i.e., attorney or non-attorney) or any for-profit firm or organization will appear on the list; and

  • the list will show the organizations that provide free legal services separately from the organizations that charge fees for services or make referrals to service providers who charge fees. Each subcategory will show the organizations in alphabetical order. POMS GN 03910.030A.3.


Please contact your regional office with questions.  The staff contact for regional inquiries is Dean Syrjanen, Attorney Adviser, who can be reached at 703-605-7355


cc:    Associate Chief Administrative Law Judges

         Regional Chief Administrative Law Judges

         Regional Office Management Teams

         Hearing Office Management Teams