Duties and Responsibilities of a Representative Payee

Senior Law News | Dec 9, 2020 | Emily A. Martin

Does My Loved One Need a Representative Payee?

If you have a friend or family member who receives Social Security benefits but no longer has the capacity to manage these benefits, you may be wondering how you can help them. Many people think that if they are appointed as someone’s Agent under a General Durable Power of Attorney, they will be able to help their loved one manage their Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not recognize powers of attorney or other similar documents. If you need to assist someone with managing their Social Security benefits, you will need to apply to become their representative payee through the SSA.

How Do I Become a Representative Payee?

In order to apply to become a Representative Payee, you will need to complete form SSA-11 (Request to be selected as payee), make an appointment with your local Social Security office, and bring supporting documents such as your license and social security card to verify your identity.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Representative Payee?

Once you are appointed someone’s representative payee, you are in a fiduciary relationship with that person. This means that you must manage their Social Security payments and use those funds to meet their needs. You must keep clear and accurate records of your actions as Representative Payee – the SSA requires that you file annual reports with them so they can verify that you are acting in the best interests of the person you are assisting.

Representative Payees cannot use the funds in the payee’s account to cover their own personal expenses or deplete the funds in a way that would leave the beneficiary without enough money for food, housing, medical care, or other essential items or services. As Representative Payee, you also cannot commingle the payee’s funds with your own funds or with someone else’s funds.

If you would like more information about what it means to be a Representative Payee, you can review the Social Security Administration’s publication, A Guide for Representative Payees, at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf.

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Emily A. Martin

Attorney, Shareholder, Esq.
757-399-7506 | 252-722-2890
[email protected]

Emily A. Martin is a Shareholder of Hook Law practicing in the areas of elder law, estate and trust administration, estate planning, asset protection planning, litigation and dispute resolution, guardianship and conservatorship, long-term care planning, special needs planning and financial planning.  To date, Ms. Martin has overseen over 100 guardianship and conservatorship matters.  In addition to being admitted to the Virginia State Bar and North Carolina State Bar, she is licensed to practice before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ms. Martin is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and Regent University School of Law. Prior to joining the firm in 2018, Emily worked as an estate planning and elder law attorney in Virginia Beach for several years.

Practice Areas

  • Elder Law
  • Estate & Trust Administration
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection Planning
  • Guardianship & Conservatorship
  • Long-Term Care Planning
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Financial Planning
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