Q How do I become a representative payee to help a loved one manage her SS disability benefits?
The majority of people who receive Social Security (SS) disability benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have payments made to them directly. However, if your loved one is a minor, has been declared legally incompetent, or has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may decide that a third party, known as a representative payee, should manage payments on behalf of your loved one. Becoming a representative payee is a simple, straightforward process, provided you're able to meet the SSA's stringent requirements.
Who Can Be a Representative Payee?
Most representative payees are a friend or family member of the beneficiary, but lawyers and other legal guardians can also apply to fill the role. The representative payee cannot have any felony convictions on his record, and the SSA gives preference to applicants who live with the beneficiary and are aware of their day-to-day needs.
Serving as a representative payee is a substantial undertaking. Individuals in this role must:
- Spend the beneficiary's disability payments to provide for needs such as food, clothing, housing and utilities, medical expenses, and miscellaneous personal items.
- Use remaining funds to pay for things such as rehabilitative therapies, bills and other family expenses, and entertainment or education for the beneficiary.
- Save any leftover money in an interest-bearing bank account.
- Report the beneficiary's life changes to the SSA. These include marriage, medical changes, or death.
- Keep track of how all of the beneficiary's payments are spent and file an annual report with the SSA.
To apply to become a representative payee, you must complete Form SSA-11, provide your Social Security Number for a background check, and be interviewed by someone with the SSA.
If You Need Help Becoming a Representative Payee
Although the process of becoming a representative payee is fairly straightforward, it can be daunting for those who have no experience dealing with the SSA. A knowledgeable disability attorney can help you simplify the process by ensuring that you provide all of the information the SSA requires when you submit your initial application. Contact the seasoned disability attorneys with Keefe Disability Law to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss becoming a representative payee.