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How can I spend my Social Security Disability Benefits?

Many claimants wait months or years to get either their Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. One of the first things you must consider is how to spend your money.

The good news for most disability claimants is they will be in charge of managing their own SSI or SSDI benefits, and there are no restrictions on how they can spend their money. How should you spend your SSDI or SSI benefit? The first priorities are obviously food, shelter, medical expenses, clothes and other family needs. After you have paid all of your necessary expenses, you may use your disability payments in any way you see fit.

The Social Security Administration, however, may determine that some claimants do not have either the physical or mental capability to manage their own financial affairs and they will assign a Social Security Disability representative payee to help the claimant.

What are the Responsibilities of a Social Security Disability Representative Payee?

If a Social Security Disability representative payee has been assigned to your case, you will not control how your disability benefits are spent. The SSD representative payee is required to spend the money to pay for necessary living expenses: food, shelter, clothing, medical costs and bills. If, after your basic needs have been met, there is any remaining money, the payee will put the remaining benefits into a savings account for you to use at a later time.

According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Disability representative payee must, “Use the benefits to pay for the current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiaries and by appropriately saving any remaining benefits.” The representative payee must also keep good records of how the benefits are spent.

The SSA will require a report by the payee each year which details how the disability benefits were spent. According to the SSA, the payee must be able to account for every dollar they spend. If the SSA is not satisfied with the reporting or if the disability claimant has a complaint about alleged misuse of their funds, the Social Security Administration will review the issues and if necessary, reclaim the misused funds.

Challenging the Assignment of a Social Security Disability Representative Payee

If you have been assigned a payee, the Social Security Administration will notify you by mail. You will have 60 days from the date of the letter to appeal the payee assignment. Challenges can be made if you do not think you need a payee or if you want the SSA to consider assigning a different payee.

What if you currently receive either SSI or SSDI benefits and you have a payee but you want a new payee? You can notify your payee that you are requesting a payee change and complete a new Social Security Disability Representative Payee application at the nearest Social Security Administration Field Office.

Benefits of Hiring a Disability Lawyer

It is possible to file your own Social Security disability claim without hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer. Many claimants will win disability benefits without legal help, but unfortunately, most claimants will be denied and may have to appeal one or two denial decisions or end up arguing their Social Security Disability case before an Administrative Law Judge in a Social Security Disability Hearing. Contact a disability lawyer for more information.