Power of Attorney & Social Security

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Power of attorney forms do not confer much power for dealing with Social Security.

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.

  1. 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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