Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can prove to be vital to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. Many recipients of SSDI benefits, however, are not able to manage their finances alone. When an SSDI recipient needs assistance in making financial decisions, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is known to appoint representative payees (which is sometimes referred to as an RP) to receive the person’s SSDI benefits and make sure that the individual’s basic needs are met. There are several different ways to which an RP is assigned including an appointment by a disability examiner or administrative law judge, a person might request the appointment of a beneficiary, or an SSDI recipient might request a payee be appointed.
Situations in Which Representative Payees Are Appointed
Two of the most common situations in which an RP is appointed include minors and adults who are declared “legally incompetent”. The SSA presumes that adults are competent to manage their own benefits but in some cases may appoint an RP based on a person’s medical records. Some of the conditions that result in an RP being appointed for an SSDI recipient include addiction to drugs or alcohol, dementia, conditions that leave the person vulnerable to abuse or exploitation, or mental impairment injuries. Under federal law, an RP is an SSDI recipient’s designated representative for benefit payments. An RP is tasked with receiving benefit payments on behalf of the beneficiary and making sure that these benefits are used in the best interest of the recipient.
Powers Granted to Representative Payees
The SSA authorizes several powers to the RP as well as some limitations regarding the extent of these powers. The representative must make financial interests that are in the best interest of the SSDI recipient. Payees are also prohibited from placing the SSDI recipient’s benefits into anyone else’s account, charging a fee for services unless authorized by the SSA, or signing any legal documents on behalf of the beneficiary. These representatives must make sure those benefit payments are kept in a separate bank account and not commingled with other funds. Some of the explicit powers that are granted to RPs include the following:
Apply benefits towards the SSDI recipient’s reasonably foreseeable needs.
Notify the Social Security Administration of changed circumstances in the SSDI recipient’s condition.
Provide written reports about how the benefits were spent. These reports are called Representative Payee Reports and must be sent to the Social Security Administration each year.
Remain aware of the SSDI recipient’s needs and condition.
Return overpayments and excess funds to the Social Security Administration.
Consult with an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney
The role of an RP is an important role with defined guidelines. If you have any questions about the process, do not hesitate to talk to a lawyer at Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC or its disability arm, Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group. Our office can be reached at (303) 534-1958 or by filling out our quick and convenient online form.