As people age, they may begin to need assistance with daily activities. Family and friends pitch in with household chores and find other ways to support those they love. Many people also need assistance managing their finances, including the government benefits they receive. The Social Security Administration offers a way to help elderly or disabled people with their social security benefits – the Social Security Representative Payee.
What are the Duties of a Representative Payee?
A representative payee receives an individual’s Social Security benefits, then uses the money to meet that person’s needs. They may be responsible for the following tasks:
- Paying for food, clothing, housing, and medical care.
- Investing extra funds in a savings account, preferably an interest bearing account. See rules about setting up the account. Keep resources below $2,000 for a single individual, $3000 for married couples.
- Keeping accurate records, then filing an annual report with the Social Security Administration.
- Reporting any changes to the beneficiary’s eligibility back to the SSA. For example, if the beneficiary’s resources exceed the allowed amount, they may become ineligible for certain benefits. Other changes that may affect eligibility include moving, getting a job, marrying, receiving income, going to jail, or dying.
- Explaining SSA notifications to the beneficiary.
- Communicating frequently with the beneficiary.
- Including the beneficiary in decision making whenever possible.
- Helping the beneficiary find additional benefits or cost savings, like reducing housing costs.
- Making sure the beneficiary has a stable living environment, where their basic needs are met.
Who Can Serve as a Representative Payee?
The Social Security Administration generally prefers that family members or friends serve as representative payees for their loved ones. However, sometimes there’s no qualified person. In such cases, the SSA taps into qualified organizations willing to become representative payees.
This job is not to be taken lightly. Penalties can be severe for a representative payee that misuses a beneficiary’s funds. At the very least, they will be required to repay the funds and also may face fines or even imprisonment.
Concerned About a Loved One’s Ability to Manage?
Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Find out what options are available to meet your needs. Our phone number is 256-251-2137, or you may want to use the Contact Form on our website. We have offices in Anniston and Birmingham, and assist clients in communities like Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Irondale, and Calera.