In certain cases, Social Security may determine that while a claimant should be awarded disability benefits, he or she is not capable of handling that money on their own.
In these cases, a representative payee is appointed to handle the money that has been awarded to the disabled individual.
Typically, representative payees are relatives who live with a claimant and are aware of their needs, but payees may also be close friends or legal guardians.
Representative payees are always appointed in cases in which minors are awarded disability benefits, and may be appointed in mental health cases if concerns are raised about an individual’s ability to handle their own friends.
Sometimes, if an individual has a prior history of drug or alcohol abuse, an administrative law judge will also recommend a representative payee so that a claimant isn’t tempted to relapse.
If Social Security believes it is for the benefit of a claimant to have a representative payee, but the claimant disagrees, he or she must provide evidence from a treating source, typically a psychologist or psychiatrist, stating that the claimant is capable of handling their own funds.
Representative payees receive no fees and must spend all of the money for the benefit of the disabled person. This includes paying for the claimant’s housing, food, clothing utilities, medical expenses, and personal care. Any leftover money should be put in a savings account for the benefit of the claimant.
In addition, the representative payee is responsible for reporting any changes in the circumstances of the beneficiary, such as getting married, living with a roommate, getting a job, hospitalization, or medical improvement.
The payee is responsible for keeping an accounting of how all disability benefits are spent, and filing a report with the Social Security Administration on an annual basis.