What is A Representative Payee?
A representative payee is an individual or organization that is responsible for distributing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments on behalf of a recipient who cannot or is not legally able to manage these funds. The role of a representative payee is to intelligently and responsibly distribute the benefits a recipient receives in an effort to optimally support the disabled individual.
Who Will Need A Representative Payee?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for appointing a Social Security representative payee to beneficiaries who are unable to properly manage their own finances, and thereby avoid a misuse of funds. These individuals may include:
- Disabled adults with dementia or cognitive impairment
- Adults who are struggling with a substance use disorder
- A minor (often a parent or guardian will serve as their representative payee)
- A claimant who may be physically vulnerable to unscrupulous people
What is A Payee Responsible For?
A representative payee is responsible for seeing to the financial needs of the SSDI or SSI recipient they are representing. The representative must save any money the beneficiary does not immediately need so that it is available later. Additionally, any payments that are sent by mistake by the SSA must be returned by the representative.
A representative payee must also report any changes in the beneficiary’s circumstances that may alter their eligibility to receive SSI or SSDI benefits, or the amount that is paid to them. These can include situations like moving to a new location, other benefits are being received, the beneficiary’s medical condition improves, etc.
Annual Representative Payee Form (Accounting Report)
The representative is also in charge of keeping accurate records of all financial transactions for the disabled individual, including filing an annual representative payee report. This report, known as the Representative Payee Accounting Report, is requested by the SSA each year and should cover the financial history of what money was spent and what was saved on the beneficiary’s behalf.
The point of a representative payee is for Social Security recipients to have someone they can depend on to manage their funds and make financial decisions with their best interests in mind. This is why selected representatives are often family members, people the recipient lives with, or are caretakers for the recipient.
The primary duties of a representative payee include using disability benefits to complete the following:
- Ensure the beneficiary has food and shelter
- Ensure rehabilitation expenses are covered
- Ensure the beneficiary has clothing
- Ensure the beneficiary’s recreational needs are met
- Ensure medical and dental care are provided if not covered by insurance
Disability payments can and should be used to cover the Social Security recipient’s following expenses:
- Bills (such as utilities and phone payments)
- Food and clothing
- Savings plans for the future
- All other things/experiences that will benefit the disabled person and is in their best interests
For SSI representatives, if a child is whom they are representing then they are responsible for ensuring that child receives appropriate medical care for their condition. Any funds that are paid in a lump sum, such as SSA back pay, must be put towards a dedicated SSI account.
If the beneficiary is an adult, the lump sum can be used to improve living arrangements for the disabled individual, purchase medical equipment not covered by insurance, pay for school, cover expenses for recreational activities, etc.
Are Representative Payees Paid?
A representative payee may be allowed to charge a fee for their services if the SSA has authorized them to do so. An organization that stands as a representative payee may also be allowed to collect a fee for their services, however, they must get permission from the SSA before doing so.
Organizations as Representative Payees Defined
An organization can be appointed as a Social Security representative payee, but they need to apply for the role and meet the qualifications set by the SSA. Some types of organizations that can serve as representatives include:
- State and Local Government Agencies
- Social Services Agencies
- Non-Profit Organizations
- Healthcare Facilities
- Some Institutions
Contact O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group
If you are struggling to obtain benefits for SSI or SSDI, or you have been approved but are unsure of how to move forward with managing your benefits, reach out to the team at O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group today and schedule a consultation. Our legal team is here to help you through every aspect of managing SSDI and SSI in Norfolk, VA.