A representative payee is a person or organization that supplies financial management for Social Security and SSI recipients. The purpose for the representative payee is to assist those receiving benefits who are unable to personally manage financial affairs.
Who is Eligible
Social Security prefers to have a family member or friend of the Social Security recipient serve as representative payee. This means that any person with close ties to the recipient of benefits is eligible to apply to serve. Where no individual is available to serve, Social Security will find a qualified organization to handle the representative payee duties.
Who is Disqualified
The system used by the government for representative payees is centrally computerized and contains all information on representative payees and Social Security beneficiaries. The representative payee system will disqualify any person with a history of Social Security misuse or conviction of fraud. The system also verifies the representative payee’s Social Security number to ensure it is valid. Without a valid Social Security number, a person cannot serve as representative payee.
How to Apply
To apply to serve as representative payee, a person completes Social Security Form SSA-11 and applies at the local Social Security Office. The applicant is required to prove his identity and provide his Social Security number, and the process requires a face-to-face interview at the Social Security office. The form is not complicated, but it does inquire about any criminal convictions.
The duties of a representative payee are cumbersome, and careful management of funds on the part of the representative payee is required. If Social Security determines that any misuse of Social Security funds has occurred, the representative payee is responsible for repayment of the funds. The representative payee appointment is for management of Social Security funds only, and does not give authority over medical decisions or income that is not Social Security, such as pensions.