Becoming a Representative Payee
A representative payee (payee) is an individual or organization that receives Social Security and/or SSI payments for someone who cannot manage or direct someone else to manage his or her money. The main responsibility of a representative payee is to use the funds to pay for the current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary. A payee is responsible for everything related to Social Security or SSI benefits that a capable beneficiary would do for himself or herself. With few exceptions, a representative payee is not paid for services. An individual representative payee may be a family member or friend that may or may not live with the beneficiary. It could also be a lawyer, a legal guardian, or a volunteer for a government or non-profit agency. Individual payees are never permitted to receive a fee for services as a payee. A Guide for Representative Payees, published by the Social Security Administration (SSA), is available at http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10076.html. An organizational representative payee includes social service agencies, institutions, an official of a state or local government agency, or a financial organization. Some organizational payees, called Fee-for-Service Payees, are permitted to charge the beneficiary a fee for services if a request has been filed with and approved by the SSA. The SSA will complete a site review for large organizational payees at least once every three years. The Guide for Organizational Representative Payees, published by the SSA, is available at http://www.ssa.gov/payee/NewGuide/toc.htm.
Apply to Become a Representative Payee • • • • Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) office nearest you. The phone number for the local SSA office can be found in the blue government pages of the telephone book or by calling 1-800-772-1213. Request and complete a Request to be Selected as Payee (form SSA-11-BK) to become either an organizational or individual representative payee, following instructions provided by the SSA. Request and have completed a Physician's/Medical Officer's Statement of Patient's Capability to Manage Benefits (form SSA-787), following instructions provided by the SSA. The SSA will require a face-to-face interview (with some exceptions). The organization or the individual must provide accurate information and documentation so the SSA can determine the applicant’s suitability to serve as a payee.
Best Practices Recommended by the SSA • • • • Establish a line of communication with your local Social Security office. Negotiate with a financial institution to provide checking accounts with no or minimal service charges, if needed. Flag the accounts of SSI beneficiaries when savings reaches $1,500 to alert the payee to assess the personal needs of the beneficiary and maintain countable resources below the $2,000 limit. Have a written contract stating the terms of the relationship between the beneficiary and the payee. An example is provided on the SSA website.
This information is adapted from the Social Security Administration website. For more detailed information on individual and organizational payees visit www.ssa.gov/payee. Updated 5/10/05