Choosing a Representative Payee

By Disability Group


In some cases, Social Security Administration determines upon the award of disability benefits that the claimant needs a representative payee for the benefit payment.  The representative payee will receive the award amount from the claimant and handle the management of the claimant’s money.  Social Security usually will designate a representative payee if there is any indication that the claimant may need help managing money; this indication could come from the claimant’s completed Function Report, from information gathered from the 3rd Party Function Report, medical records or from the very nature of the claimant’s disabling condition.


The claimant has the right to request a payee or to change the payee that the Social Security Administration has chosen for the claimant.  The representative payee should be someone whom which the claimant can trust, sees often, and knows the nature of the claimant’s needs.  Individuals, social services agencies, nursing homes and other organizations all can offer to represent a claimant as a payee.


A payee has the responsibility of using a claimant’s monthly benefits to pay for housing and utilities, food, medical and dental expenses, personal care items, clothing and rehabilitation expenses for the claimant.  Any leftover funds should be spent toward further care for the claimant or the payment of any past-due bills.  A payee should keep detailed records of how the funds have been spent in caring for the claimant, as they will have to report these records regularly to the Social Security Administration.


Any changes in the claimant’s living situation should be reported to the payee in order for the funds to be spent appropriately.  In the case of a claimant’s SSI payments, changes in living situations or extra monetary support from outside sources should be reported to the payee immediately.  If the SSI benefits are overpaid for a period of time due to income from another source, these paid benefits may need to be paid back to Social Security.  Similarly, changes in marital status, trips outside the US, admission to a hospital and admission to jail or prison should also be reported to the representative payee.


If for any reason a claimant has problems with his or her representative payee, Social Security should be contacted immediately.  A request to change a payee can be submitted at any time for review, as can a request to designate a payee.  The claimant and the payee should be able to come to agreement on how the funds should be spent to care for the claimant; if this agreement cannot be reached, Social Security can designate a new representative payee for the claimant or review their initial determination of the necessity of a payee.