What are Social Security Representative Payees?

By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Millions of people get monthly Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments.  Some need help managing their money.  When we receive information that indicates you need help, we’ll assign a representative payee to manage your benefits for you.  We try to select someone who knows you and wants to help you.  A representative payee receives your monthly benefit payment on your behalf and must use the money to pay for your current needs, including:

  • Housing and utilities
  • Food
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Personal care items
  • Clothing
  • Rehabilitation expenses (if you’re disabled)

If you need help managing your benefits, tell a Social Security representative that there is someone you want to be your representative payee.  They should be someone you trust and see often, and who clearly understands your needs.  Social service agencies, nursing homes, or other organizations are also qualified to be your representative payee.  Ask them to contact us.  You can write to us within 60 days of being assigned a representative payee if you don’t agree that you need one or if you want a different representative payee.

We also offer an option, called Advance Designation, which allows you to choose a representative payee in advance.   In the event you can no longer make your own financial decisions, you and your family will have peace of mind knowing you already chose someone you trust to manage your benefits.

You can submit your advance designation request when you apply for benefits or after you are already receiving benefits.  You may do so through your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, by telephone, or in person.

You can find more information at http://www.ssa.gov/payee.

Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.