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Assigning a Representative Payee for Disability Benefits

Many claimants who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) do not have the physical or mental capability to manage their own benefits.

What does a Social Security Administration Representative Payee do?


If you have decided you need help managing your disability funds you can be assigned a representative payee. The representative, who is appointed by the Social Security Administration, has the legal authority to use the claimant’s benefits to pay for the “current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary.” The representative payee's duties can include:

  1. Maintaining savings accounts to meet the current and future needs of the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claimant.

  2. Helping the claimant get proper medical treatment.

  3. Completing written report to account for fund management.

  4. Keeping records of how funds are spent.

  5. Notifying the Social Security Administration of major changes which affect the representative payee’s ability to do their job.

  6. Identifying the claimant’s financial needs.

  7. Returning funds that the claimant should not receive to the SSA.

  8. Notifying medical facilities of information.


Although many of the duties seem similar, if a person has been assigned power of attorney over a claimant this is not the same as a representative payee and the durable power of attorney does not automatically allow this person to manage the claimant’s SSDI or SSI funds. They would need to apply and be assigned as representative payee by the Social Security Administration.

Persons who wish to be a representative payee must contact the Social Security Administration, submit an application, Form SSA-11, documents verifying their identity and complete an in-person interview with the Social Security Administration.

What a Social Security Administration Representative Payee cannot do


The duties and responsibilities of the representative payee are clearly outlined and limited. Representative payees do not have the authority to perform any of the following:

  1. Sign legal documents for the claimant which are not sent by the Social Security Administration.

  2. Have control or manage funds that are not related to Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits: earned income, 401IK income, pensions, etc.

  3. Use the claimant’s money for their own personal use or use funds for non-necessary services that would leave the claimant without sufficient funds for food, medical care and housing.

  4. Move the claimant’s disability funds to their own bank account or another person’s bank account.

  5. Charge the claimant for the services they provide, unless authorized to do so by the Social Security Administration.

  6. Keep Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits that belong to the claimant after the representative payee’s duties have been terminated.


Who is assigned as a Social Security Administration Representative Payee?


Minor children and adults who are determined incompetent will automatically be assigned a representative payee. Other claimants who simply feel unable to manage their own Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits can also request a representative payee.

Claimants who do not request a representative payee will be assumed to be competent and able to manage their own Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income funds.

Other Issues Reported to the Social Security Administration


Finally, the representative payee must communicate with the Social Security Administration in the event that the claimant dies, moves, marries or starts working (even for limited income). They also must report if the claimant’s health improves or the claimant receives additional government funds. The payee also must tell the SSA if the claimant has been committed to an institution, sentenced for a crime, leaves the U.S. for more than 30 days, gets custody of a child or if the representative payee decides they can no longer provide their services to the claimant.

 

 
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