For those who may have a health condition which interferes with their ability to work, receiving disability benefits can make a huge difference in their life. They can use the benefits to help pay for housing, food, clothing, medical care, and other necessities. Without the benefits, they may have a difficult time providing these things for themselves.

With most health conditions, the person affected remains capable of handling their own personal care and finances. But, some health conditions affect the person to the extent they cannot manage their own personal care or finances without help.

If this happens, the Social Security Administration (SSA) often will assign a representative payee to help manage the benefits to make sure the recipient gets the care they need.

Who Can Be a Representative Payee?

The SSA decides if a disability recipient needs a representative payee. If so, the SSA appoints a representative payee for the recipient.

According to the SSA website, they “look for family or friends to serve as representative payees. When friends or family are not able to serve as payees, Social Security looks for qualified organizations to be representative payees.”

If the recipient does not like the representative payee named by the SSA, they will have 60 days to appeal. If they ever want to change their representative payee, they must get permission from the SSA. If they agree to removal, the SSA will choose a new representative payee. While the SSA will consult with the recipient on choosing a representative payee, the SSA has the final say in who gets appointed.

What Are the Duties of a Representative Payee?

A representative payee’s primary duty consists of using the recipient’s benefits to provide the following things for the recipient:

  • food
  • shelter
  • clothing
  • medical care not covered by insurance
  • personal care needs
  • recreation

If any funds remain after paying for these things, the payee must make arrangements to save the funds for the recipient’s future needs.

The SSA monitors how the representative payee handles the recipient’s disability benefits. They cannot spend the money any way they want to. The representative payee must keep track of how they spend the recipient’s benefits throughout the year.  The SSA requires an annual report. A representative payee found misusing a recipient’s benefits must repay the funds and could have to pay fines or face imprisonment.

A representative payee does not automatically have power of attorney over all the recipient’s affairs. The SSA only gives a representative payee authorization to handle the recipient’s interests with the SSA.

Getting Help Understanding Representative Payee Role

Admittedly, understanding the role of the Social Security disability representative payee can be confusing. But, do not let this confusion stop you from getting the help you or your loved one need.

Brock & Stout’s disability attorneys have over 20 years of experience helping clients get the disability benefits they deserve. We will work with you to help you through the disability application process and understand if the role of a representative payee is needed.

Contact us for a free evaluation of your situation to see if we can help you.