Can Social Security Disability Checks Be Paid to Someone Else? (All About “Payees”)
What is a Social Security Disability Representative Payee?
Sometimes a physical, mental or psychological disability renders an individual unable to manage their own financial affairs. When a Social Security Disability recipient cannot manage his or her SSDI benefit money, a person (or sometimes an organization) can be appointed to receive their check and manage their benefit money for them.
Generally, the Social Security Administration looks for a family member to serve as the representative payee. If a qualified family member is not willing or able to take on these duties, a close friend may be appointed. And when neither family nor a friend are able to serve as a payee, Social Security may enlist a qualified organization to serve as a representative payee.
You cannot just appoint yourself as a payee. Similarly, being an authorized representative, having power of attorney, or being on a joint bank account with the beneficiary is not enough to make you a payee. A representative payee has to be appointed through the Social Security Administration.
What Can a Social Security Representative Payee Spend Money On?
A Social Security representative payee is under a legal duty to only use the benefits to pay for the current and future needs of the beneficiary – and to save any benefits not needed to meet current needs. The payee must keep detailed records and receipts of all expense that they have paid with the benefit – and must periodically submit reports and provide an accounting to SSA of how they used and/or saved the benefits.
The payee should only use the benefits to pay for the disabled person’s day to day needs and living expenses. This would include, rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities food, clothing, medical expenses, transportation and other incidentals. Any money that is not spent for these things should be saved in a separate interest-earning bank account for the beneficiary.
Can I Take a Fee or Payment for Being a Social Security Payee?
No. Social Security does not approve or allow payments to individuals for being a payee.
Under some limited circumstances, certain organizations that serve as payees for multiple beneficiaries may be allowed to take a fee. But family members, friends, and other individuals are not allowed to charge a fee for payee services.
Duties of a Social Security Payee:
- Determine the beneficiary’s day to day needs and living expenses;
- Use his or her payments to meet (only) those needs;
- Save any money left in an interest bearing account or savings bonds for the beneficiary;
- Report any changes that affect the beneficiary’s eligibility to the SSA;
- Keep records of all payments received and receipts for all expenses that you paid;
- Complete written reports accounting for your use of funds;
- Keep records of all extra funds and how/where they are being saved;
- Help the beneficiary to get & pay for medical treatment when needed;
- Return any overpayments or other payments to which the beneficiary is not entitled.