Online access to SOAR applicants’ electronic folders or eFolders (EFs) is now available for Appointed Representatives (vis-à-vis SSA-1696) with ALJ hearing and Appeals Council level cases! We strongly encourage you to enroll for online access to your applicant's eFolders. Read more to learn about the benefits of enrollment and its multi-step process. You must follow all the steps to enroll for eFolder access, but we promise, you’ll be glad you signed up for this amazing SSA service!
What is ARS?
ARS stands for “Appointed Representative Services”. According to SSA,
“ARS is an application that allows appointed representatives to view electronic folder (eFolder) documents in real time, to download eFolder contents including multimedia files, and upload medical evidence and other documents directly into a claimant’s eFolder. Representatives may also download status reports with key information regarding their pending and recently closed cases.”
Who can enroll?
Beginning August 12, 2016, only Representatives who are eligible for direct payment are mandated to enroll in ARS. Although the vast majority of SOAR providers are ineligible to accept direct payment from SSA and are, therefore, not mandated to enroll in ARS, both SSA and the SOAR TA Center strongly encourage everyone who is representing applicants at the hearing or Appeals Council levels to enroll. Essentially, non-attorneys who are ineligible for direct payment of fees are not required to enroll in ARS, but are able to do so if they wish.
Using ARS to access disability files online is advantageous because the appointed representative can view all documents in real-time, and not just the exhibit list that SSA currently burns to CDs. In addition, eFolder access provides uploading and downloading capabilities for electronic cases pending at the hearing and Appeals Council level. Remember, utilizing SSA’s online resources is a SOAR critical components. By filing, uploading and reviewing documents online, you will save a valuable resource - time.
How to Enroll?
You will need to follow these steps, in order. The full enrollment process can also be found on the Social Security website's Appointed Representative Services (ARS) page.
- You will be making an “application” to enroll in ARS by contacting your local hearing office by phone and “request an invitation” to enroll. Click Hearing Office Locator to find your SSA Region and hearing office closest to you. Be sure to find the office geographically nearest you because one of the last steps is an “in-person visit” to this office. Please note: Field offices do not enroll representatives. It must be a hearing office.
- Receive in the mail an invitation notice (view a sample invitation here (PDF)) and a specially marked Form SSA-1699, Registration for Appointed Representative Services and Direct Payment (PDF). Find tips for completing this form, below. The SSA-1699 will be new to most SOAR providers.
- Complete and sign the SSA-1699, then fax it to 1-877-268-3827 for processing.
- Once the SSA-1699 is processed, you will be mailed a User ID and Rep ID.
- Contact your local hearing office to arrange a date, time, and location to complete the in-person enrollment. The purpose of the in-person visit is an OMB requirement for authenticating your personal documents listed below in Step 5.
- Attend the scheduled in-person enrollment event and bring the following:
- Your invitation notice
- A valid government-issued photo ID
- A text-enabled cell phone
Tips for Accurately Completing SSA-1699
Form SSA-1699 (PDF) is used for both requesting direct fee payment and requesting electronic access of eFolder. We are only interested in utilizing this form for requesting electronic access of eFolder. Therefore, you will skip sections 5 and 6 about direct fees, and go to the next section. To further draw attention to using this form solely for accessing eFolders, SSA suggests writing, “Requesting ARS access to Electronic Folder.” This will stop SSA from returning the form as “incomplete.” Please see this sample completed SSA-1699 (PDF). Note: Do not use this sample when submitting your own form, start with a blank document available here (PDF).
We recommend that anyone who is regularly (or even occasionally!) handling cases at the hearing or Appeal Council level sign up for ARS because it is much easier to view, track, and submit documents. If you are having trouble enrolling, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.