Disability representative payee what do I have to do?Recently on our disability forum a user asked, I have been assigned as my nieces representative payee for Social Security Disability benefits. I know there are high fines and penalties for committing disability fraud. How do I ensure I use her funds correctly?
According to the SSA, there are currently eight million disability recipients who need help managing their disability funds. If you have been assigned as your nieces representative payee, then the court has given you the authority to manage her disability payments and use them on her behalf.
Responsibilities of a disability representative payee
- Manage your payees day to day needs.
Regardless of what you are doing for your payee you will need to always do what is in her best interest. The first concern, however, will be to provide for her day to day care, including her food and her shelter. In some cases, you may also be required to use the funds to pay for her medical and dental care, clothing, and recreational needs.
If after all of her basic requirements are met you have additional funds remaining, you may invest her funds in some type of interest-bearing account or U.S. Savings Bonds. You are generally not allowed, however, to take payment for the services you provide (exceptions may exist so talk to the SSA if you have questions).
- Spend the money to improve the beneficiarys condition.
Representative payees may also have the option to make material improvements to the living condition of the payee or to improve their personal situation. For example, if you have provided for the basic needs of the payee and have invested some of the money but continue to have remaining funds, you may also be allowed to use funds to pay for expenses related to reconstructive dental care, a motorized wheelchair, rehabilitation expenses, insurance premiums, or a down payment for a home for the beneficiary.
Note, if you have questions about the legality of how you can use disability funds you should contact the SSA to ensure all of your purchases are legal.
- Reporting obligations of the representative payee.
One of the best ways to protect yourself as the representative payee is to keep accurate records and report all the money you spend for the payee on by completing a Representative Payee Report (Form SSA-623, SSA-6230, or SSA-6233). In some cases, you may also be responsible for paying taxes on certain benefits.
- Reporting changes that affect the benefit payments for your beneficiary.
Finally, you will need to understand changes that can affect your beneficiarys rights to receive disability benefits. With this in mind, certain changes should be reported to the SSA immediately, including when the beneficiary moves, when the beneficiary starts or stops working, when the disabled beneficiarys medical condition improves, when the beneficiary starts receiving another governmental benefit or the benefit amount changes, when the beneficiary is imprisoned for more than a year, when the beneficiary is committed to an institution by court order for a crime committed because of a mental impairment.