Power of Attorney & Social Security

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When Social Security recipients become unable to manage their own affairs due to age or disability, friends or relative sometimes believe that a power of attorney will allow them to manage the recipient's Social Security checks.

Incapable Beneficiary

  • The power of attorney does not confer authority to manage a Social Security recipient's benefits. If the beneficiary is incapacitated, only Social Security can approve another person to handle benefits. This is accomplished through a representative payee application process.

Check Cashing Rules

  • The U.S. Treasury Department's regulations forbid using a power of attorney to cash Social Security benefit checks. Section 207 of the Social Security Act forbids assignment of benefits, and the power of attorney offers a potential way to assign benefits to a non-recipient.

Authorized Representative

  • A power of attorney does not authorize a person to act as an attorney or representative in the case of Social Security appeals or other business on a Social Security beneficiary's behalf. A recipient must submit a written and signed request directly to Social Security that contains the same information requested on Social Security form SSA-1696, Appointment of Representative.

Disclosure of Information

  • The Privacy Act limits who may consent to the disclosure of personal information from the Social Security records. Under the Privacy Act, a power of attorney does not give the authority to consent to the release of information, unless it includes specific instructions from the beneficiary about releasing such information.

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