Duties and Responsibilities of a Representative Payee

Does My Loved One Need a Representative Payee?

If you have a friend or family member who receives Social Security benefits but no longer has the capacity to manage these benefits, you may be wondering how you can help them. Many people think that if they are appointed as someone’s Agent under a General Durable Power of Attorney, they will be able to help their loved one manage their Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not recognize powers of attorney or other similar documents. If you need to assist someone with managing their Social Security benefits, you will need to apply to become their representative payee through the SSA.

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How Do I Become a Representative Payee?

In order to apply to become a Representative Payee, you will need to complete form SSA-11 (Request to be selected as payee), make an appointment with your local Social Security office, and bring supporting documents such as your license and social security card to verify your identity.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Representative Payee?

Once you are appointed someone’s representative payee, you are in a fiduciary relationship with that person. This means that you must manage their Social Security payments and use those funds to meet their needs. You must keep clear and accurate records of your actions as Representative Payee – the SSA requires that you file annual reports with them so they can verify that you are acting in the best interests of the person you are assisting.

Representative Payees cannot use the funds in the payee’s account to cover their own personal expenses or deplete the funds in a way that would leave the beneficiary without enough money for food, housing, medical care, or other essential items or services. As Representative Payee, you also cannot commingle the payee’s funds with your own funds or with someone else’s funds.

If you would like more information about what it means to be a Representative Payee, you can review the Social Security Administration’s publication, A Guide for Representative Payees, at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf.

Ask Jolene: Panda Cub Xiao Qi Ji

Hook Law Center: Jolene, what can you tell me about the panda cub at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.?

Jolene: Xiao Qi Ji, the newest panda cub at the National Zoo, was born about four months ago. His name means “Little Miracle.” Although he spends most of the day sleeping and is completely dependent on his mother’s milk for nutrition, Xiao Qi Ji is very active at night, playing with his mom, Mei Xiang, and even practicing learning how to walk on his own! In fact, on Thanksgiving Day, Xiao Qi Ji took his first steps on all fours. The cute young “toddler” cub is not only learning how to walk, but he is also growing teeth and claws – which he will need once he starts climbing trees with his mother!

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