The Philadelphia case in which a group of mentally disabled adults were locked in a basement while their captors stole their disability benefits has raised issues with the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) representative payee program. The ringleader of the crimes had been serving as a representative payee despite having a homicide conviction. Recent legislation that we discussed last week should close this loophole so that criminals will have more difficulty taking advantage of disabled Americans receiving benefits.
Representative payees are those who manage Social Security disability benefits for beneficiaries unable to do so themselves (typically minor children or adults who are legally incompetent). Often, family members or other loved ones serve in this role, but certain community organizations and facilities that care for disabled Americans may also do so. Representative payees need to be responsible, caring people, as they use a person’s disability benefits to provide care to him or her. They have to keep track of how they spend the benefits and then save any remaining money for the beneficiary.
Serving as a representative payee requires the submission of an application (form SSA-11) along with documents that establish your identity. The SSA does not permit an individual ever to receive a fee for serving as a representative payee. The SSA does permit a fee for certain organizations, but the organizations must have this in writing in order to begin collecting a fee. There are several conditions that an organization must meet in order to serve as a representative payee that is able to collect a fee. More information is available from a Tulsa Oklahoma SSI attorney.
Have you served as a representative payee for another’s disability benefits? What important tasks did you have to perform as a payee?
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers