What is a representative payee?
A representative payee is a person who acts as the receiver of Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income for a person who may need some help managing their benefits. A representative payee is appointed by Social Security and can be a family member, a close friend, or even an organization, like a nursing home or residential facility.
Responsibilities of a Representative Payee
SSA requires a representative payee manage funds to ensure the beneficiary has no unmet needs, including housing/utilities, food, medical expenses, personal care items, and clothing. SSA also requires the payee to account for all funds received and spent, conserve any unspent funds appropriately, comply with accounting and reporting responsibilities, and keep detailed records that document how the funds were spent on behalf of the beneficiary.
How We Help
In March 2018, legislation was passed by the U.S. Senate to increase oversight and protection for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. The bill, called the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act (H.R. 4547), increased independent oversight of the Social Security Administration’s Representative Payee Program.
NDRN and the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Network are working in collaboration with the Social Security Administration to monitor representative payees throughout the country. Through this collaboration, the P&As have expanded protection of Social Security beneficiaries by conducting representative payee reviews to educate representative payees of their responsibilities and identifying cases of misuse.
Disability Rights NJ provides advocacy and legal services through this program to protect people with disabilities from financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect. Disability Rights NJ reviews representative payees to ensure they use the benefits to pay for the current and future needs of the beneficiary as well as properly save any benefits not presently being used to meet a beneficiary’s current needs.
What does a representative payee review look like?
This representative payee review includes an interview with the individual or organizational representative payee, a review of the payee’s financial records for the selected sample of beneficiaries, as well as a home visit and interview for each beneficiary included in the review. Legal guardians and third parties may also be interviewed when applicable.
What will happen after the review?
If Disability Rights NJ has concerns that the payee is not fulfilling its duties or could be mishandling benefits, corrective action may be required. Depending on the findings, Disability Rights NJ or SSA will work with the payee to make the necessary corrections, and if necessary pursue the removal of the payee and appoint a more suitable one.
Connect with our Representative Payee Team
If you or someone you know has a concern with their representative payee or feels their payee is not meeting the requirements above, you can contact Disability Rights NJ’s Intake Department at 800-922-7233.
For additional information on representative payees and their roles and responsibilities, visit https://www.ssa.gov/payee/