Being a Social Security Representative Payee for Friend or Family
These days, personal finances can be complicated for anyone. That’s especially true when one has vision, hearing, or cognition disabilities, mobility challenges, and lives on a limited income.
Older people are particularly vulnerable to money scams. Due to aging and health problems, they may need help to conduct their banking, purchases, and bill-paying as competently as they have in the past. They can get confused and then be talked into spending money they can’t afford.
You can help.
If you are a family caregiver, a family member, or a personal friend of a person who receives Social Security and who needs help managing their money, you may be eligible to be appointed by the Social Security Administration to help them manage their income as a Social Security Representative Payee.
You must know the person well to help them make money decisions. In that case, you can get hired by the Social Security Administration as a Social Security Representative Payee to help them manage their money.
You will not be paid for this service.
The Social Security Administration can appoint a “representative payee” for a beneficiary. To become a “representative payee,” you must apply and provide information about yourself. Call the Social Security office near you to get an application form and talk about whether or not you are eligible.
If you are appointed a person’s “representative payee,” Social Security will pay the benefits to you so you can use the money on the person’s behalf. Representative payees cannot charge fees for their services, with just a few exceptions.
The Social Security Administration has specific rules for handling a person’s Social Security income. For example, the checking or savings account must be titled in a certain way.
The Social Security income funds must not be mixed with other funds. Any money left over after taking care of personal needs must be saved in a savings account or with a U.S. savings bond. You have to show the Social Security Administration that the person has enough to eat and a safe place to live.
Being a representative payee is a serious and demanding responsibility. As a Social Security representative payee, you have to keep complete and detailed records of all the money you get and spend.
Annually, you would have to report this information to the Social Security office. You must also report any changes in your situation or the person’s situation, such as moves, admission to a nursing home, changes in health, marriage, divorce, incarceration, etc.
If the beneficiary dies, the money in the account belongs to the person’s estate, not the representative payee. If you misuse Social Security funds or don’t give the required information, you could be charged with a crime.
Legally, a payee is not authorized to manage income that does not come from Social Security.
Family members who have been given Power of Attorney usually take care of money that isn’t from Social Security. Powers of attorney are helpful in many situations, but they can’t be used to handle your monthly Social Security payment.
The only person the Social Security Administration will let manage a beneficiary’s money is a Social Security Representative Payee.
Get the publication from Social Security titled “A Guide for Representative Payee.” Get in touch with the SSA if you need clarification. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, please contact them at their TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, or at their toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.