QUESTION: What is a Representative Payee?
Answer: A representative payee is a person selected to receive benefit checks on behalf of another. A beneficiary of a benefit like Social Security, Supplemental Security, Railroad Retirement may voluntarily appoint a third party to manage and control his/her monthly benefit. In some cases, where the beneficiary is mentally or physically incapable of managing his/her own funds, the Agency may require that a Payee be appointed to handle the individual’s benefit.
QUESTION: If I am appointed a Payee, what are my responsibilities?
Answer: As a fiduciary, you are responsible to act in the best interest of the person over whom you are Payee; you need to manage the funds you receive prudently; you need to keep the beneficiary’s money separate from yours; you need to keep good records and account to the Administration that has appointed you. In addition, it is imperative that you notify the Administration about any event which affects the recipient’s right to receive benefits. Similarly, if you no longer wish to serve as a payee, you must notify the Administration/Agency which appointed you.
QUESTION: Will I automatically be appointed as a Payee if my spouse is under a disability and unable to manage his/her benefits?
Answer: Not necessarily. If your spouse voluntarily appoints you and there is no impediment to you serving, you should be able to act as the Payee. There is an application process a Payee needs to complete prior to being selected by the Administration/Agency in cases where a Payee may be required. Oftentimes, an interview of the prospective Payee is conducted as well.