Social Security Benefits and Representative Payee

Authored By: Colorado Legal Services


What if I have a question that is not answered in this FAQ? +

Below are more common questions about rep payees, but if you want more information or have further questions click here.

What is a representative payee? +

If Social Security determines you cannot manage your benefits on your own due to mental or physical disabilities, they will choose someone else and designate them "representative payee". This person receives and manages the benefits on your behalf.

How does Social Security decide if you need a representative payee? +

Social Security considers medical evidence from a current doctor's evaluation. They consider any court findings of incompetence, which means that the court found you unable to handle your own affairs. Social Security also reviews statements of relatives, friends and others who would know about your ability to manage benefit payments.

How does Social Security determine who will be a representative payee? +

Social Security prefers your legal guardian, spouse or friend. They prefer a person having custody of you, or demonstrating strong concern for your personal welfare. They may choose a public or nonprofit agency or institution having custody of you, or other qualified persons. They may choose members of community groups or organizations volunteering to serve as payee. Social Security will notify you if they plan to name a specific person or organization as your representative payee.

What if you are not happy with the fact that you were given a payee, or if you are not happy with the person they chose? +

You can submit additional evidence objecting to the designated payee, or to the need for a payee, to the Social Security Administration. If you feel that you don't need a payee, send Social Security a doctor's statement stating you are able to handle your own money. A form for this is available from Social Security. If you are still not satisfied with Social Security's decision, ask them for reconsideration of the decision.

What if your representative payee is not properly managing your funds? +

If this is the case, go to Social Security tell them your concerns, and request a change in payee. If they agree, Social Security will help you get a new representative payee. They may also ask your current payee to account for how your benefits were spent. If you believe funds have been taken or mishandled you should obtain counsel to discuss possible action against the payee or against Social Security.

This communication is made available by Colorado Legal Services, Inc., (CLS), as a public service and is issued to inform not to advise. No person should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of an attorney. The opinions expressed in this communication are those of the authors and not those of CLS or its funding sources.

Last Review and Update: Feb 13, 2018