Most adults who receive Social Security benefits can handle the money themselves. However, adults who are considered legally incompetent, and most minor children, may need some help. In such cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may appoint a representative payee. There are some things that your representative payee cannot do.
Your Representative Payee Cannot Withhold Funds as Punishment
The funds in a beneficiary’s account are to be used for the beneficiary only. Period. The representative payee cannot make decisions about the funds that are not in the best interests of the beneficiary.
A representative payee can never refuse to care for the beneficiary as punishment for something the beneficiary has done.
For example, Carol’s representative payee told her not to talk to certain members of her family. If she did, the representative payee stated she would refuse to buy Carol some clothes that she desperately needed. This representative payee is violating the beneficiary’s trust and can be reported to the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General.
Or Use Funds for Their Own Benefit
The representative payee is expressly forbidden to “use a beneficiary’s funds for their own personal expenses.”
For example, Daniel’s payee used several of his monthly checks to gamble in Las Vegas. Here again, the representative payee may have to answer to the Office of the Inspector General for violating his or her duties.
Or Ignore Your Basic Needs
An individual serving as a representative payee has a duty to use the beneficiary’s funds for the beneficiary’s needs. Some of the items considered necessary for a beneficiary include:
- Food, and
- Medicaid care.
In fact, the SSA requires that representative payees:
Maintain “a continuing awareness of the beneficiary’s needs and condition, if the beneficiary does not live with the representative payee, by contact such as visiting the beneficiary and consultations with custodians.”
In other words, representative payees must know what the beneficiary needs and use the beneficiary’s funds to cover those needs.
A Disability Attorney Can Help Every Step of the Way
If you feel your representative payee has mishandled your funds, you can contact the OIG Fraud Hotline.
However, if you need to file a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Income, contact The Law Offices of Martin Taller. For a free consultation with an experienced Social Security attorney, consult with an attorney at The Law Offices of Martin Taller. Call us at 714-385-8100. We assist clients throughout Southern California from our home office in Anaheim.