YOUR RIGHTS AS A PERSON WHO
GETS SSI OR SSDI THROUGH A REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE
A REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE?
representative payee, also referred to as a rep payee, is a
person, agency, or organization appointed by Social Security to
get your SSI and SSDI benefits for you and use those benefits to
meet your needs.
NEEDS A REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE?
Social Security Administration (SSA) assumes that ALL people who
receive SSI or SSDI have the right to manage their own benefit
payments. There are only two groups of benefit recipients who
must receive their SSI/SSDI through a rep payee:
by a court to be legally incompetent (who have guardians), and
the age of 18.
Security may decide that other people who receive SSI or
SSDI are not able to manage their own benefits and need a rep
payee. BUT, a SSI/SSDI recipient who disagrees with this
decision may fight it by filing an appeal.
RIGHTS DO I HAVE WHEN SSA DECIDES I NEED A PAYEE?
give you a written notice stating that a representative payee
(payee) will be appointed and stating who that payee will
be. That notice must include a statement of your appeal
If you disagree
with Social Security’s decision that you need a payee, or if
want a different payee than the one
Social Security appointed for you, you can file an
appeal. This appeal is called a Request for Reconsideration and
must be filed within 60 days of the date of the notice
from SSA appointing the payee. If you appeal, SSA must
review its decision and give you a notice with a new
decision. If you disagree with the new decision, you have the
right to appeal by asking for a hearing with an
Administrative Law Judge.
MY PAYEE DO WITH MY BENEFITS? WHAT MUST MY PAYEE NOT DO?
payee must use your social security funds for your
benefit. This includes meeting your basic needs for food,
clothing, shelter, and utilities as well as personal care,
medical and dental care, education, and personal comfort
items. If you are in a hospital or
institution that accepts Medicaid (Masshealth), then
Medicaid should pay for the hospital and your SSI/SSDI should be
used to meet your other needs.
Your payee must
save any funds remaining at the month’s end must be saved in an
appropriate bank account. If you receive SSI, your payee should
be careful not to let your assets go over the $2000 SSI
asset limit ($3000 for couples).
Your payee is
not your guardian and does not have the right to make
decisions about anything other than your SSI and SSDI benefits.
Your payee cannot tell you where you must live or how you must
Your payee must
keep your funds in a separate account and keep separate
records about the use of your funds. Payees must make yearly
written reports to SSA about how the funds were
Your payee must
make reports to SSA about changes in your situation that may
affect your monthly benefit. These include things
like change of address, marriage, divorce, and return to
work. You are also responsible for making these reports to
I DO IF I THINK YOUR PAYEE IS NOT USING MY BENEFITS TO MEET MY
monitor the actions of your payee in order to ensure that the
payee is using the benefits to meet your basic
needs. If you think your payee is not using
your SSI/SSDI for to meet your needs, you can file a complaint
about your payee with your local SSA office. SSA must
investigate all complaints filed about payees and must
notify you of the results of its investigation and of your
right to appeal if you disagree. A payee who spends your SSI/SSDI
funds on himself may be required to repay you.
You can get a
You can try to
become your own payee if you can show that you are able to
manage your own money and meet your basic needs.
HOW CAN I
GET A DIFFERENT PAYEE APPOINTED?
recipient who becomes unhappy with their payee can request that
someone else be appointed to serve as payee. It is always
best to have a replacement payee in mind. SSA must
help you find a payee if you are not able to find one
yourself. Each SSA office must maintain a list of
individuals and agencies in their area that are willing to
provide payee services.
Just because you
live in an institution or are a client of a state agency (such
as the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Mental
Retardation, or the Department of Social Services)
and are required to have a payee, Social Security should not
automatically appoint the institution or state agency to be
your payee. A family member, friend or other person can
be your payee if they apply and SSA approves.
BECOME MY OWN PAYEE?
you think that you no longer need the help of a payee to manage
your funds, you can ask Social Security to pay you directly.
You need to give SSA evidence to support your request. There
are different types of evidence that may be helpful:
Letters from your
doctor or counselor stating that you are able to manage money
and provide for your own basic needs.
friends, family members, clergy, or other people who know you
and your ability to manage your own money and meet your basic
Your own actions
may also be part of the evidence showing that you can manage
your own money. For example, it may help to let SSA know that
you have been maintaining your own checkbook or bank
account, that you know what your monthly income and basic
expenses are, and that you are making sure that your bills
are being paid on time.
If you apply
to be your own payee and Social Security denies your
application, you have the right to appeal that decision. You
have 60 days from the date of SSA’s decision to file the
appeal. That appeal is called a Request for Reconsideration.
WHAT IF I
NEED A PAYEE BUT HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND ONE?
If SSA decides you
need a payee but you have not been able to find a suitable
payee, in most cases, SSA must pay you directly until you find a
payee. But, there are exceptions to this rule:
SSA may suspend your benefits for a maximum of 1
month if paying you directly would cause “substantial
harm.” If you have a substance abuse condition, SSA may
but is not required to suspend your benefits for more than
1 month but SSA must use “extreme caution” to ensure that you
are not harmed by an extended period without payment of
benefits. People who have been found legally incompetent or who
are under 15 years old cannot be paid directly even if
no payee has been found.
PAYEE CHARGE A FEE?
approved as payees may charge a fee for serving as payee. That
fee is taken out of your SSI/SSDI. For most people,
the maximum fee is $33 per month, but for people with
substance abuse conditions, the fee may be up to $64 per
month. Individual payees may not charge a fee.