When a Social Security Disability beneficiary is a child or an adult deemed incapable of managing their own money, a representative payee is appointed. In most cases, if you need a representative payee, you will be able to choose who that person will be, subject to the Social Security Administration’s approval.
Whomever is chosen to manage your Social Security Disability benefit payments, you will want to make sure that they are someone you can trust. After all, they will be handling your finances. Additionally, they will be responsible for attending Social Security meetings regarding your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. They may also be called upon to account for how your benefit payments were spent.
Whenever you suggest a payee, the SSA must approve them before your Social Security Disability benefits can be sent to them. In general, the SSA will be looking into their background to make sure that they haven’t committed any crimes against the SSA, and additionally that they haven’t previously misused someone else’s Social Security Disability benefits.
If you need to change or appoint a new rep payee, the process is fairly simple. Even if your payee was appointed for you, you may request a new payee (though you must give adequate reason for changing). When you want to change your rep payee, go to your Social Security Administration field office and request a change of payee. You will be given a form to fill out, and guidance will be provided if necessary.
Be aware that requests for a change of payee may be denied if your reason for requesting the change involves suspected use of your Social Security Disability benefits for illegal drugs, alcohol abuse, or involvement in other illegal or harmful activities. If you can prove that your payee is misusing your Social Security Disability benefits, you will be able to have a new payee appointed.
If possible, take the person you want to be your new payee with you to the Social Security Administration Field Office. They will need to verify their identity with picture identification and a Social Security card. The SSA will also need them to verify that they are willing to assume the responsibilities, which include: helping you pay your bills, helping you buy your groceries, and (in most cases) making sure that you have some discretionary money after your immediate needs are taken care of.
Your payee is also responsible for reporting any changes in your condition or income to the Social Security Administration. If for no other reason than this, it is in your best interests to have a payee whom you can trust, as your continued eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits could hinge on what your rep payee reports.
In most cases, when you change payees, your next check will be sent to your new payee. In rare cases, the process may take a bit longer, but seldomly takes more than a month to change your payee.
You may also apply to have yourself appointed as the payee if you can substantiate that your condition has improved enough to allow you to manage your money. You should be aware, of course, that if your qualifying condition is a mental condition, stating that you are now mentally competent to handle your own money may cause the SSA to re-open your Social Security Disability case to determine whether you have improved sufficiently to be denied Social Security Disability benefits.