WORKING WITH THOSE WHO PROVIDE CARE: SOCIAL SECURITY’S REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE PROGRAM
By Kirk Larson
Social Security Western Washington Public Affairs Specialist
According to the Census Bureau, there are nearly 57 million people living with disabilities in the United States. Thirty percent of American adults help provide care for a sick or disabled family member.
Social Security works closely with caregivers through our Representative Payee Program. A representative payee is someone who receives and oversees the Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for an adult or child who cannot manage his or her benefits. A payee’s main duties are to use the benefits to pay for the current and future needs of the beneficiary, and properly save any benefits not needed to meet current needs. A payee must also keep records of expenses. When we request a report, a payee must provide an accounting to us of how he or she used or saved the benefits. You can learn more about our Representative Payee Program at www.socialsecurity.gov/payee.
A representative payee is usually a trusted family member or friend of the beneficiary, but when friends or family are not able to serve as representative payees, Social Security looks for qualified individuals or organizations to represent the beneficiary. Being an authorized representative, having power of attorney, or a joint bank account with the beneficiary is not the same as being a payee. These arrangements do not give legal authority to negotiate and manage a beneficiary's Social Security and/or SSI benefits. In order to be a payee, you must apply for and be appointed by Social Security.
Currently, more than six million payees manage $80 billion in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 3.5 million adults and 4 million children determined to be incapable of managing their benefits. Projections indicate that the number of people needing assistance will increase dramatically in the coming decades as the population ages.
If you are concerned that someone you know becomes incapable of managing or directing the management of his or her benefits, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment to discuss your concerns.
Kirk Larson is a Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist located in Seattle and serving Western Washington.