What Should A Social Security Representative Payee Do and Not Do?

Sometimes, people who receive Social Security Disability Benefits are not able to handle their own funds. In those cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) appoints a family member, friend, or another individual or organization to handle their Social Security Disability benefits.

Responsibilities of a Representative Payee:

Some of the duties of a Representative Payee include:

Determining the beneficiary’s total needs and using the Social Security Disability benefits received in the best interests of the beneficiary;

Maintaining a continuing awareness of the beneficiary’s needs and condition, if the beneficiary does not live with the Representative Payee, by contact such as visiting the beneficiary;

Applying the Social Security Disability Benefit payments only for the beneficiary’s use and benefit

Notifying SSA of any change in his or her circumstances that would affect performance of the Representative payee’s responsibilities; and

Reporting to SSA any event that will affect the amount of benefits the beneficiary receives and to give SSA written reports accounting for the use of the benefits.

Essential Needs:

A Representative Payee must apply the payments for the use and benefit of the entitled individual. The funds should be spent on the beneficiary’s current and reasonably foreseeable needs. The needs should be immediate and essential.

Examples of properly disbursed benefits are:

Medical care and insurance
Dental care
Personal hygiene
Rehabilitation expenses

If there are funds left over once the beneficiary’s current needs are met, the representative payee must save and/or invest the remaining funds in trust for the beneficiary.

What Representative Payees Should NOT Do:

Representative Payees cannot:

Use a beneficiary’s funds for their own personal expenses, or spend funds in a way that would leave the beneficiary without necessary items or services (housing, food and medical care);

Put a beneficiary’s Social Security funds in the Representative Payee’s or another person’s account;

Keep funds once he or she is no longer a Representative Payee for the beneficiary; and

Charge the beneficiary a fee for services unless authorized by the Social Security Administration to do so.

Reporting Violations:

If you feel that a Representative Payee has in some way misused the benefits being issued for a beneficiary, you should contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.