What Is a Representative Payee?


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SSDI and SSI benefits: What Is a Representative Payee?

Published on March 10th, 2020 by Eric Slepian

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash benefit programs based on recipients’ disabling medical conditions that prevent them from working. The money benefits from these programs are often crucially important to meeting the eligible recipients’ needs.

When an SSDI or SSI recipient would be unable to reasonably manage their own benefit checks, the agency will appoint a representative payee, sometimes called a rep payee, to manage the claimant’s benefit money.

A claimant may need a rep payee in circumstances including:

  • Cognitive or intellectual disability
  • Mental health problem
  • Child (SSI only)
  • Catastrophic physical impairment
  • Drug or alcohol addiction

The agency tries to appoint a representative payee who is involved in the recipient’s life and whom the beneficiary trusts. The payee should have regular contact with the beneficiary in order to be aware of the recipient’s needs. Representative payees are often family members or close friends – sometimes appointed after beneficiaries requested them – but agencies or residential facilities sometimes act as payees.

Rep payees must submit a yearly report about how they spent the beneficiaries’ benefits. A payee has fiduciary duties of trust and loyalty and should they misuse the money, they must repay it and may face criminal penalties.

A representative payee must use the person’s benefits for:

  • Housing and utilities
  • Food
  • Medical, dental and rehabilitation costs
  • Clothing and personal items

A claimant may appeal if they disagree with SSA’s decision to appoint a rep payee or with the choice of a particular person.

Contact Our SSI Lawyers in Flagstaff, AZ

If you have further questions about representative payees or how our team can help you throughout this process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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