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FAQs for Beneficiaries Who Have a Payee

More FAQs for:

Representative Payees

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What If SSA Believes That I Cannot Handle My Money?

We will investigate your capability to manage your own funds. Your benefits will continue being paid directly to you until we finish the investigation and a decision is made.


Why Do I Have a Representative Payee?

You have a payee because we have determined that you need help in managing your money. Usually the representative payee is someone who sees you often, knows you and your needs, and wants to help you.


What Does a Representative Payee Do For Me?

Your payee receives your payments on your behalf and must use the money to pay for your current needs. After those expenses are paid for, your payee can use the rest of the money to pay any past-due bills you may have, provide entertainment for you, or save the money for your future use.


Who Will Be My Representative Payee?

We try to select someone who knows you and wants to help you. Our main concern is that our payee is someone who can see you often and who knows what your needs are. For that reason, if you are living with someone who helps you, we usually select that person to be your payee. In most cases, someone who knows you asks us if he/she can be your payee. It may be a family member, a friend, a legal guardian or a lawyer. Sometimes, however, social service agencies, nursing homes or other organizations offer to serve as payees. If there is someone you would like to have as your payee, you can tell a Social Security representative and we will consider your request.


What Will My Representative Payee Have To Do?

Your representative payee will have to submit proof of identity and show his/her social security card or Employer Identification Number (EIN). Your representative payee must be a person who has never been shown to have misused anyone's Social Security benefits and must have never been found guilty of a crime committed against SSA. Your representative payee will also have to attend an interview with you at your local SSA office.


What Are the Responsibilities of My Representative Payee?

Your representative payee must use your benefits to pay for your needs. These could include payment for food, shelter, clothes, medical care and personal comfort items. Also, your representative payee must inform SSA of events that could change the amount of, or your right to receive, benefits.

If SSA asks, your representative payee must also give a written account of how your money was spent. A payee must also tell SSA if there are changes that might affect his/her ability to act as your representative payee.


I Don't Think My Payee Gives Me Enough Money - What Should I Do?

You should talk with your payee about how your money is being spent. Your payee should show you how much money you get from Social Security or SSI and how much he or she spends on your needs. Then you should talk with your payee about how you want to use any remaining money.


What Happens If I Think My Representative Payee is Misusing My Benefits?

Notify SSA immediately. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a formal determination on whether misuse has occurred. You will receive a letter from SSA advising you of our findings. If misuse is found, SSA may appoint you a new representative payee or make payments directly to you. We will then initiate action to recover the misused funds .


What If I Believe I No Longer Need a Representative Payee?

You have the right to receive your own Social Security check unless SSA has reason to believe you may spend your money in a way that might hurt you.

If you have a representative payee because of a physical or a mental disability, in order to become your own payee, you must show SSA that you are now mentally and physically able to handle your money yourself. You could provide:

  1. A doctor's statement that there has been a change in your condition and that the doctor believes you are able to care for yourself; or

  2. An official copy of a court order saying that the court believes that you can take care of yourself; or

  3. Other evidence that shows your ability to take care of yourself.

Note: Be advised that if SSA believes your condition has improved to the point that you no longer need a payee, we may reevaluate your eligibility for benefits.


What If I Disagree With SSA's Decisions?

You have the right to appeal either the decision that you need a representative payee, or the person or organization SSA has chosen as your representative payee. You have 60 days to appeal a decision by contacting SSA. Please contact your local Social Security office or call us at 1-800-772-1213 for more information. Portal to U.S. government agencies Privacy Policy | Website Policies & Other Important Information | Site Map
Last reviewed or modified Monday Jan 14, 2008
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