If you or someone you know has received disability benefits, you may have heard the term “representative payee.” The Social Security Administration (SSA), which manages the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, recognizes that some people will find it difficult to manage their monthly disability benefits. When this occurs, a representative payee may be appointed.
What is a representative payee?
Sometimes a person who receives SSDI or SSI experiences difficulties when handling their money. In cases involving minor children, a representative payee is required because minors typically cannot make their own legal decisions. A severely disabled person, an elderly person, or anyone else who is considered legally incompetent may need the services of a representative payee.
How is a representative payee appointed?
Staff from the Social Security Administration (SSA), which manages SSDI and SSI benefits, may notice a recipient’s struggles. If so, staff usually will investigate to find out if the person needs a representative payee. In many cases, the SSA staff tries to locate someone who can serve as the benefit recipient’s payee.
Another interested person, friend, or family member may ask to be appointed by submitting a Form SSA-11 (Request to Be Selected as Payee) to the SSA. Before the request is granted, the interested person usually meets with SSA staff.
Who can serve as a representative payee?
An interested individual or organization may serve. Typically, SSA staff will favor appointing someone who lives with or has a close relationship with the beneficiary. This person could even be the beneficiary’s legal guardian or lawyer.
What are some common duties?
The primary goal is for the appropriate individual to manage the beneficiary’s disability benefits. Additional duties may include some or all of the following:
- Using the money for the beneficiary’s needs, both current and future;
- Saving unspent funds for future care;
- Keeping records of money received and expenses paid;
- Watching for overpayments;
- Returning overpayments to the SSA;
- Returning all funds to the SSA if no longer serving;
- Provide reports to the SSA showing that the money was spent on the benefit recipient’s needs.
Is there anything my representative cannot do?
Yes, there are some specific things your representative cannot do. For example, he or she cannot:
- Keep your money away from you as a punishment.
- Refuse to pay for your basic needs, like food, housing or medical care.
- Use your benefits for their own personal use.
Generally, a representative payee is expected to receive your benefit payments and use them for your needs.
Do you need to learn more about disability benefits and the representative payee program?
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience in the legal field. Much of their work involves Social Security disability cases. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.