Sometimes people who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from Social Security need help managing their money and spending it on the necessities for which it’s intended. If you’re required to have a representative payee for your benefits, you would probably prefer to have a role in choosing that person rather than simply have the SSA designate an institution as your payee.
What does a representative payee do?
If a payee is assigned for you, your SSI benefits will then be sent to the payee rather than the to you. The payee is responsible for ensuring that the funds are used for expenses such as:
- Medical, dental and rehabilitation expenses
- Clothing and personal care items
Any remaining funds should be deposited in a bank account for you and held for your other needs. Representative payees are also responsible for reporting changes in your living situation, income, resources and other important information to the Social Security Administration as needed.
Who can be a representative payee?
Representative payees are often family members or someone close to the beneficiary whom they trust. Nursing homes, social service agencies and other organizations can also assume the role.
SSA makes the decision about who becomes a payee. However, if you have a family member whom you would trust to be your representative payee and who is willing to take on that responsibility, they can contact the SSA to ask that they be considered. Even if someone already has power of attorney (POA) over your finances or health care or you’ve named someone as your trustee or executor in your estate plan, that doesn’t automatically entitle them to be your representative payee. They will need to have an interview with an SSA employee and be approved.
If you are in the process of applying for SSI benefits or if you have questions or concerns about the amount you’re eligible to receive or other aspects of the program, you may benefit by consulting an attorney who’s experienced with Social Security benefits.