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Representative Payee for Social Security Benefits

What is a Representative Payee

Social Security's Representative Payment Program provides benefit payment management for our beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Social Security appoints a suitable representative payee (payee) who manages the payments on behalf of the beneficiaries. The representative payee can be a family member or a friend. Social Security may also appoint a nursing home facility, if the person resides at the facility.

Using Social Security Benefits for the Recipient

A representative payee is charged with using the payments they receive in the best interest of that recipient. As a payee, all payments received from Social Security must be used for the individual's current maintenance needs or saved for future needs. Current needs include food, housing, clothing, medical care and personal items.

Reporting Requirements

A representative payee is also required to keep records and account for the use of the person's benefits. A representative payee is a fiduciary to the person for whom the benefits are being managed. As a result, representative payees are required to maintain detailed and accurate records of all funds received and spent. A detailed record of expenditures may include receipts, banking statements, cancelled checks, bills and invoices.

Social Security also has a lot of information posted on its website that addresses the responsibilities of a representative payee. To learn more,see the FAQs for Representative Payees.

Until recently, the representative payee filed annual reports with Social Security. Congress recently passed the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (H.R. 4547). The bill, which the sponsors claim will help modernize the representative payee program, was signed into law by the President on April 13, 2018, the effective date of the Act. Specifically, the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 is intended to increase oversight of representative payees by increasing the number of performance reviews of payees, requiring additional types of reviews, and improving the effectiveness of reviews. It also eliminates the requirement to file the annual accounting form for representative payees who are parents living with their children or who are spouses. One significant change is to allow beneficiaries to make a designation of their preferred payee in advance and require SSA to assess the appropriateness of the order of preference list it uses to select payees.

Disclaimer: The materials on this website are intended for general informational purposes only. These materials do not, and are not intended to, constitute legal advice. Visitors to this website should consult with competent legal counsel. This article is not intended to, and does not create, an attorney client relationship with Weiss, Tom & Trapanese, LLC or any of the firm's lawyers. This website is not intended as an offer to represent you.

Contact an Experienced Elder Law Attorney

Our attorneys are familiar with the Social Security and Medicare benefits. For more information, you may contact them.

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