In April 2018, H.R. 4547 was enacted to strengthen the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) oversight into the Representative Payee Program and protect Social Security beneficiaries.
- What is a Representative Payee?
Representative payees can be either individuals or organizations who receive Social Security (SS) benefits for individuals who cannot manage or direct the management of their own benefits. Serving as a representative payee is an important responsibility. As a representative payee, one must use the benefits to pay for the current and future needs of the beneficiary, and properly save any benefits not needed to meet current needs. Additionally, representative payees must preserve expense receipts and prepare statements to account to the SSA. For more information regarding the duties of a representative payee, click here:
- What does the new Act change?
Under the new law, States must conduct periodic onsite reviews of individual and organizational payees. The law prohibits individuals who have been convicted of a felony, or of an attempt or a conspiracy to commit a felony from serving as representative payees. Beginning in January 2019, the SSA may revoke certification of payment of benefits to any individual serving as a representative payee who fails to grant permission to conduct background checks. Additionally, the law bars an individual who has a representative payee himself or herself from serving as a representative payee for another.
The law also allows for beneficiary autonomy. The law provides for advance designation of representative payees, whereby the beneficiary may choose his or her representative payee. The beneficiary can choose a relative, friend, or other interested party to serve as the representative payee. Under the new law, if a parent (who resides in the same household as the beneficiary) or spouse of the beneficiary serves as the representative payee, he or she does not have to account annually. The purpose of this change is in recognition that parents and spouses typically know the beneficiary’s needs and have his or her best interest in mind. As such, to encourage parents and spouses to take on this responsibility, the law reduces the burden of annual accounting.
The intricacies of the Representative Payee Program and the new Act can be cumbersome. If you or a loved one needs assistance understanding the duties of a representative payee contact an experienced special needs planning attorney today.