Social Security Representative Payees


What Is A Representative Payee?

Social Security's Representative Payment Program provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or SSI payments.

Generally, Social Security looks for family or friends to serve in this capacity.

When friends and family are not able to serve as payee, Social Security looks for qualified organizations to be a representative payee.

What Is A Beneficiary?
A beneficiary is a person who receives Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Social Security and SSI are two different programs and both are administered by SSA.
Who Needs A Representative Payee?

The law requires minor children and legally incompetent adults to have payees.

In all other situations, adult beneficiaries are presumed to be capable of managing benefits. If there is evidence to the contrary, however, SSA may appoint a representative payee.

How Do I Apply to Be a Representative Payee?
You should contact the SSA office nearest you to apply to be a payee. You must then submit an application, form SSA-11-BK (Request to be selected as payee) and documents to prove your identity. SSA requires that the payee application must be completed in a face-to-face interview (with certain exceptions
What Are the Duties of a Representative Payee?

A payee acts on behalf of the beneficiary. A payee is responsible for everything related to benefits that a capable beneficiary would do for himself or herself. SSA encourages payees to go beyond just managing finances and to be actively involved in the beneficiary's life. The following lists the required duties of a payee.

Required Duties:

  • Determine the beneficiary's needs and use his or her payments to meet those needs;
  • Save any money left after meeting the beneficiary's current needs in an interest bearing account or savings bonds for the beneficiary's future needs;
  • Report any changes or events which could affect the beneficiary's eligibility for benefits or payment amount;
  • Keep records of all payments received and how they are spent and/or saved;
  • Provide benefit information to social service agencies or medical facilities that serve the beneficiary;
  • Help the beneficiary get medical treatment when necessary;
  • Notify SSA of any changes in your (the payee's) circumstances that would affect your performance or continuing as payee;
  • Complete written reports accounting for the use of funds; and
  • Return any payments to which the beneficiary is not entitled to SSA.
Can I Collect A Fee for Serving as a Representative Payee?

Individual payees cannot collect fees. An organization, though, may collect a fee from a Social Security or SSI beneficiary's monthly payment as reimbursement for expenses incurred in providing payee services to that beneficiary. To collect a fee an organization must be:

  • A community based, nonprofit social service agency, which is bonded or licensed in the state in which it serves as payee, or
  • A state or local government agency with responsibility for income maintenance, social service, health care, or fiduciary responsibilities, and
  • Regularly serving as a representative payee for at least five beneficiaries, and is not a creditor of the beneficiary (some exceptions apply).

Before an organization can collect a fee for representative payee services, it must request authorization from the manager of the local Social Security office. Once the organization is authorized, they are called a Fees-for Services representative payee.

Last Review and Update: Apr 27, 2006
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