Social Security: Representative Payees
In case you become unable to handle your Social Security benefit payments, Social Security has a program for the appointment of a Representative Payee. A person with a Power of Attorney cannot act for you with Social Security. He or she must be appointed a Representative Payee.
The process can be started by Social Security when there is evidence that you are not able to manage or direct the management of benefit payments. For example, if you are under age 18, or over age 18 but are thought to be legally incompetent or mentally or physically incapable, or have a substance abuse problem. (There are exceptions so that some children under age 18 do not need a Representative Payee. For information, click here. For information about people over 18 who need a Representative Payee, click here.)
The process of appointing a Representative Payee is different in each instance.
When Social Security makes the determination that a Representative Payee should be appointed:
- The beneficiary (or the individual acting on his or her behalf) will be sent a notice of the proposed action. The notice states why Social Security plans to name a Representative Payee and who that Payee will be.
- If the beneficiary does not agree with the choice of either the decision to have a Representative Payee or the person appointed as Payee, the beneficiary may notify Social Security that s/he objects. The beneficiary will then have the right to review the evidence, and submit any additional evidence. Social Security will review the proposed determination, consider any additional information received, and issue its determination.
- If the beneficiary (or the individual acting on his or her behalf) objects to either decision, s/he may request a reconsideration.
- Usually you will be asked to submit:
- Evidence that establishes your ability to manage or direct the management of benefits. This could include records of other financial matters you are currently satisfactorily managing, or other similar proof of capability.
- In a case where you were found legally incompetent, a certified copy of the court order restoring your rights.
- If you are or were confined in an institution, a signed statement from a physician or from a medical officer of the institution showing the your present capability to manage money.
- For more information, see: Appeals.
- Usually you will be asked to submit:
You can initiate the program and have a Representative Payee appointed. If you're considering appointing a Representative Payee, also consider giving that person or someone else a Durable Power of Attorney to handle the rest of your affairs. Preferably, it will be the same person in both positions so there is no conflict. (Who Can Or Should Serve As Representative Payee?)
There is an order of preference in selecting a Representative Payee. The order varies depending on the identity of the beneficiary. (See Selecting A Representative Payee.. To leaern avout evidence that must be presented before a person is named Representative Payee, click here.
The duties and responsibilities of a Representative Employee are spelled out by Social Security, including rules about how the Payee is to keep, invest and disburse the benefits.
- Among other rules, generally, no other funds may be combined in the account that contains the money from Social Security.
- The rules can be found in the Social Security Handbook ( 1600 et. Al. at www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.16/handbook-toc16.html
There is a procedure so you can terminate a Representative Payee. If you have a Representative Payee, and feel you are now capable of handling money on your own, or merely want to replace the Representative Payee, go to your local field office or call 1.800.772.1213. The Social Security representative will provide instructions, tell you about obtaining any needed paperwork, and list the documentation you will need to provide.
- If you feel you can handle your money on your own, usually you will be asked to submit the following:
- Evidence that establishes your ability to manage or direct the management of benefits. This could include records of other financial matters you are currently satisfactorily managing, or other similar proof of capability;
If you want to replace the Representative Payee, you will need to supply a justification for the replacement.
For additional information, see: www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.16/handbook-toc16.html for a Social Security table of contents.