Are You Required to Have a Representative Payee?

Submitted by Daniel on Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:31

When some people go through the disability application process, they are surprised to find out that they must have a Social Security Disability Representative Payee in order to receive the benefits they have been approved for. Why does this happen? Does everyone who qualifies for Social Security Disability need a Representative Payee in order to receive benefits? Understanding what a Representative Payee is and why some Social Security Disability beneficiaries need one can help alleviate questions and concerns regarding this policy. This information will help you understand what a Social Security Disability Representative Payee is, what they do, and why the Social Security Administration has decided that you must use one to handle your Social Security Disability payments.

What is a Social Security Disability Representative Payee?

A Social Security Disability Representative Payee is an individual or an organization who handles Social Security Disability benefit payments on the behalf of a Social Security Disability recipient. This person or organization is responsible for receiving the monthly Social Security Disability benefit payments and spending them appropriately on behalf of the individual who is entitled to them.

Many people worry that the Representative Payee assigned by the Social Security Administration will be able to do whatever they see fit with a person's Social Security Disability benefits. This is not the case. The laws are very clear as to what a Representative Payee may and may not do with a beneficiary's monthly Social Security Disability payments.

A Social Security Disability Representative Payee must use an individual's Social Security Disability benefits to pay for the recipient's monthly living expenses. If any money is left over after monthly living expenses have been paid, then reasonable entertainment expenses may be allocated. If there is still money left over after paying for living and entertainment expenses, then that money must be set aside in an account for the Social Security Disability recipient to use for future living expenses.

Why is a Social Security Disability Representative Payee Required?

Not all Social Security Disability beneficiaries will need a Representative Payee in order to receive Social Security Disability benefits. If, however, the Social Security Administration feels that you are unable to manage your monthly disability benefits on your own, they will require that a Representative Payee handle your benefits for you. This ensures that your monthly Social Security Disability benefits are used for their intended purpose and that your basic living expenses are covered each month out of the benefits you receive from the Social Security Administration.

Who Acts as a Social Security Disability Representative Payee?

In most cases, a family member or a friend will act as a Representative Payee if the Social Security Administration requires an individual to have one. If there are no friends or family members available to perform this duty, then a qualified organization may act as a Social Security Representative Payee for a Social Security Disability recipient.

If you do need a Representative Payee to handle your Social Security Disability benefits, you need to understand that your benefits are still your own and they must be handled appropriately by the Representative Payee. Regardless of who your Representative Payee may be, that person or organization must provide the Social Security Administration with detailed records accounting for how your Social Security Disability benefits are spent. This ensures that your funds are used appropriately and that there is no misuse of your Social Security Disability benefits.

What if You Disagree with the Decision?

If you disagree with the fact that you need a Representative Payee to handle your Social Security Disability benefits, you must contest this fact with the Social Security Administration. This involves going before a judge and stating your case as to why you should be allowed to handle your Social Security Disability benefits on your own. However, if you feel that your disability has improved to the point that you no longer need a Representative Payee, you may actually be at risk of losing your Social Security Disability benefits.

In most cases the Social Security Administration will not require the use of a Representative Payee unless there is solid evidence that the beneficiary is unable to handle his or her Social Security Disability payments on their own. If you have been required to have a Representative Payee, there is likely valid reason for this fact – even if you do not agree with it. In most cases, using a Representative Payee is likely in your best interest if the Social Security Administration requires you to do so.

If, for some reason, things do not work out with the Representative Payee that has been assigned to handle your Social Security Disability benefits, you may be able to change the Representative Payee in charge of your benefits without putting your Social Security Disability benefits at risk. To do this you must contact the Social Security Administration to let them know why you feel your Representative Payee needs to be changed and provide them with any documentation supporting your claim.

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