When I took over the finances for my mother, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she didn’t have her Social Security payment directly deposited into her checking account. My parents grew up during the unsettling times of the Depression with high unemployment and bank failures.
Many elderly beneficiaries who cannot manage or direct the management of his or her money have a representative payee. A representative payee is a person who has legal authority to receive a cash benefit check from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of the recipient.
A representative payee’s authority is limited to receiving and managing benefits from the SSA. The payee has no legal authority to manage non-Social Security income or medical matters. A power of attorney or legal guardianship is not recognized by the Treasury Department for the purposes of negotiating federal payments, including Social Security checks. Therefore, they too must apply to be appointed the representative payee.
You should contact the SSA office nearest you to apply to be a payee. You must then submit an application — form SSA-11-BK in SSA-speak — and request to be selected as payee. You must also have documents to prove your identity. SSA requires that the payee application be completed in a face-to-face interview, with certain exceptions.
Here are some of the duties that are required from a representative payee:
Determine the beneficiary’s needs and use his or her payments to meet those needs.
Save any money left after meeting the beneficiary’s current needs in an interest bearing account or savings bonds for the beneficiary’s future needs.
Report any changes or events which could affect the beneficiary’s eligibility for benefits or payment amount.
Keep records of all payments received and how they are spent and/or saved.
Provide benefit information to social service agencies or medical facilities that serve the beneficiary.
Help the beneficiary get medical treatment when necessary.
Notify SSA of any changes in your (the payee’s) circumstances that would affect your performance or continuing as payee.
Complete written reports accounting for the use of funds once a year; and
Return any payments to which the beneficiary is not entitled to SSA.
You may not collect a fee for acting as a representative payee unless you are a qualified organizational payee who has applied and been approved in writing by the SSA to collect a fee.
If this all seems a little overwhelming, you may contact the Social Security Administration toll free at (800) 772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact your local SSA office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on business days, or visit their Web site http://www.socialsecurity.gov. You may also request SSA Publication No. 05-10076, “A Guide for Representative Payees.”
Full Article and Source:
Helping a Parent Through the Social Security Maze
Note: Debbie Haws is a caregiver and guardian of a parent with dementia. Her experiences and heartfelt journeys have created a passion for increasing awareness of issues faced by Seniors and their families.