Picking A Representative Payee

Handing over the rights to your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits isn’t easy to do. But, just like millions of people, you may need help handling your monthly bills and health expenses, especially if your physical or mental health is compromised. Asking for help is never a bad idea — you just need to ensure the person you choose is trustworthy and knows exactly what you need.

Who can ask for a representative payee?

There are several situations that allow the designation of a representative payee. According to Erik N. Jones, assistant deputy commissioner for operations at the Social Security Administration, an Advance Designation application is valid if you don’t currently have one but are applying for benefits and need help properly managing the funds. The process also applies if you don’t have a representative payee and you are listed as an adult beneficiary/recipient for benefits or you’re an emancipated minor who is applying for benefits. If you’re designated as a beneficiary/recipient and are an emancipated minor, you can opt for a representative payee to handle your benefits, too.

Who can be a representative payee?

You can name and rank three candidates to be your representative payee through the Advance Designation program, according to Jones. Potential representative payees can be a family member or friend.

The SSA can also designate a social service agency, a nursing home or another organization to help with managing your benefits, according to Darlynda Bogle, assistant deputy commissioner of the SSA.

“We try to select someone who knows you and wants to help you. Your representative payee should be someone who you trust, who sees you often, and who clearly understands your needs,” Bogle adds. “If you received a decision that you are appointed a representative payee and don’t agree that you need one, or if you want a different representative payee, write to us within 60 days to appeal that decision.”

What are the responsibilities of a representative payee?

Once a representative payee has been assigned to manage your monthly benefits for you, they  will be required to diversify the funds to cover your monthly expenses, reports Bogle.  These expenses can include groceries, utility bills, rent or mortgage payments, personal care items and clothing. Medical bills, dental expenses and rehabilitation services to assist with your disability should be addressed as well.

According to the AARP, the representative payee must also deposit money not used to cover bills into a savings bond or an interest-bearing financial account. A detailed record of where your benefits go and updates to your address and personal status are also required to be reported by your representative payee. If your representative payee is unable to continue as your helper, they must let the SSA know.

There is no reason to struggle with money matters regarding your Social Security benefits. If you need help, reach out to the SSA for assistance in designating a representative payee.

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