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SSA lacks consistency for beneficiaries' representative payees

Representative payees are an essential part of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. When a disability beneficiary cannot handle his or her finances independently, a representative payee is in charge of both receiving the beneficiary's payments and allocating the money to the beneficiary.

Despite their importance, however, a recent report reveals that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not effectively managing the role of representative payees. The report, published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, indicates that the Social Security Administration has no standardized procedure to determine who might need a representative payee. Furthermore, the agency does not have a specific process to pinpoint beneficiaries who may in the future need a representative payee to handle their finances due to an inability to do so themselves.

Of the roughly 16 million adults who receive disability benefits currently, only 3.5 million have a representative payee. According to the report, many of the other beneficiaries may need representative payees and do not have one, or may need one in the future, and yet the SSA is not effectively equipped to determine who these beneficiaries are. The report recommends implementation of new policies to rectify the agency's current failure to properly identify the need for representative payees.

If you or a loved one has questions regarding representative payees, including appointing a payee, you may wish to consult with an attorney for guidance. Additionally, if a recipient of both SSI and SSDI benefits has a representative payee for one of the two programs, but not the other, as happens all too often according to the aforementioned report, it may be wise for the recipient to obtain a representative payee for the program for which he or she does not currently have one.

Source:, "Social Security Urged To Revamp Representative Payee Approach," Shaun Heasley, March 22, 2016

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