Payee FAQs: A Practical Guide to Managing Social Security Benefits

What is a Payee?
According to the Social Security Administration, a representative payee is a person or organization appointed to receive the Social Security or SSI benefits for anyone who can’t manage their own benefits. It can be a friend or family member or organizational payee. When choosing a payee consider choosing someone the beneficiary feels will support them in participating in managing their money.

What does a Payee do?
A Payee’s main responsibility is to use Social Security or SSI benefits for the current and future needs of the beneficiary, and properly save any benefits not needed to meet current needs. A Payee also must keep records of every expense. When the Social Security Administration requests a report, a Payee must provide proof of how the benefits were used and saved.

How is a Payee different than an authorized representative?
Being an authorized representative, having power of attorney, or a joint bank account with the beneficiary is not the same as being a Payee. These arrangements do not give legal authority to negotiate and manage a beneficiary’s Social Security or SSI benefits. In order to be a payee, you must apply for and be appointed by the Social Security Administration.

How do I become a Payee?
Contact the Social Security office nearest you to apply (click here for information on the Akron office). You must complete form SSA-11 (Request to be selected as payee) and show documents to prove your identity. You will need to provide your Social Security number, or if you represent an organization, the organization’s Employer Identification Number. Usually, you must complete the payee application with Social Security office staff face-to-face.

What are some examples of what a Payee can not do?

  • Sign legal documents, other than Social Security documents, for a beneficiary.
  • Have legal authority over earned income, pensions, or any income from sources other than Social Security or SSI.
  • Use a beneficiary’s money for the payee’s personal expenses, or spend funds in a way that would leave the beneficiary without necessary items or services (housing, food, medical care).
  • Put a beneficiary’s Social Security or SSI funds in the payee’s or another person’s account.
  • Use a child’s “dedicated account” funds for basic living expenses. (This only applies to SSI beneficiaries with developmental disabilities under age 18.)
  • Keep conserved funds once you are no longer the payee.

Who do I contact if I have problems or questions?
You can contact your Summit DD Service and Support Administrator (SSA) and also reach out to the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. You can also find more FAQs on the Social Security website.

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