Social Security Designated Payee

Social Security Designated Payee

People who need help using their Social Security benefits numbers more than 8 million people monthly.

A family member, loved one, neighbor or someone you know may be eligible for a monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefit and needs assistance managing their money. The SSA can appoint a person, or organization, to manage a person's benefits.

The Social Security Administration may appoint a relative or friend to act as the "representative payer" in these situations.

To protect the rights of Social Security beneficiaries, the Social Security Administration reviews applicants to become representative payees. A representative payee is a person who receives payments on behalf of the beneficiary and has the authority to use them.

Social Security Representative Responsibilities

It’s a significant responsibility by agreeing to be a representative payee. Doing so can make a huge positive difference in someone’s life.

The Social Security Administration assigns a representative payer to a beneficiary who is familiar with the beneficiary's needs so that they can make informed decisions about how best to use their benefits.

A representative payee needs to be close enough to the person they are helping to understand the needs of the beneficiary so they can make the most of their benefits. This is particularly important if the beneficiary lives separately from you.

Except for certain circumstances, a payee cannot collect fees from the beneficiary. Except as permitted by Social Security or if you are the legal guardian, you cannot collect fees from beneficiaries.

How to Manage Being a Representative Payee

Representative payees are appointed by the Social Security Administration to manage Social Security and SSI money. Payees do not have the legal authority to handle non-Social Security income and medical matters. However, a representative payee may be required to assist a beneficiary in obtaining medical treatment or services.

To account for benefits they receive and manage, representatives payees must complete an annual form. This form must be completed and returned to Social Security via mail. If they have a personal social security account, they can also file it online through the Representative Payee portal. Account holders can obtain a benefit verification letter, manage direct deposit and report on wages for their beneficiaries. 

The Social Security Administration will request that you complete a form each year to record the benefits you have received. You may be contacted by a Protection and Advocacy Agency in your state to review your receipts and record of income and expenses. You will need to inform Social Security about any changes that could affect the eligibility of the beneficiary as a representative payee.

The law requires that representative payees use benefits in the beneficiary’s best interests. Payees who misuse benefits must repay the money. Payees who are convicted of misusing money may face a fine and imprisonment.

A power of attorney is often used by family members to manage the finances of a loved one. A power of attorney cannot be used to manage someone's monthly Social Security benefits. For the benefit of beneficiaries, only a designated representative payer is recognized by the SSA.

The Social Security Administration assigns a representative payer to a beneficiary who is familiar with the beneficiary's needs so that they can make informed decisions about how best to use their benefits.

If you need to, you can also choose to name up to three trusted individuals to be your future representative payee. This is known as an Advance Designation. The SSA offers Advance Designations for capable adults and emancipated children who are applying or receiving Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security income, or Special Veterans Benefits. Advance Designation gives you and your family peace of mind that someone you trust can manage your benefits.

More information is available at:

Consider becoming a representative payee if you know someone who is struggling to manage their monthly benefits..

Talk to a representative from your local Social Security office for more information.

Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 8:00 AM and 5:30 PM on business days. You can call 1-800-325-0778, the toll-free TTY phone number, between 8:00 and 5:30 p.m., on business days, or your local Social Security office between 9 and 5:30 p.m., on business days.