Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Representative Payees: What's it All About?

Not all individuals who receive SSI or SSDI benefits are able to manage their benefits on their own. Some beneficiaries require assistance with their finances and paying their bills. Sometimes this is due to the fact that the beneficiary is of advanced age, has a mental or physical disability that precludes them from managing their money, or the recipient is a child.

As the AARP discussed on its website this week, there is a solution to this predicament—a representative payee arrangement. A representative payee helps to manage the personal finances of a recipient of SSI or SSDI who is unable to do so themselves. This generally includes helping the beneficiary pay their bills, make sure their health expenses are covered, and basic expenses like food and shelter are covered.

However, a representative payee’s duties can be a little bit more complicated than just making sure the beneficiary’s bills are paid. For instance, a representative payee must file reports to Social Security about the beneficiary’s account; ensure that the benefits are properly accounted for in the beneficiary’s income tax return; and keep the Social Security Administration abreast of any changes in the beneficiary’s life that could change their eligiblity for benefits.

A representative payee does not have unlimited control over the entirety of a beneficiary’s finances. Instead, a representative payee only has authority to help manage SSI or SSDI benefits, not money that the beneficiary may have from other sources.

To become a representative payee, individuals must complete the necessary paperwork and application provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will conduct a background check to ensure the applicant is qualified and competent to act in the capacity of a representative payee.

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California who focuses her practice on Social Security advocacy. If you or someone you know is applying for or has been denied SSI or SSDI benefits, contact Stephanie online or at 949-359-1370 for a free consultation.

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