How Long Does It Take To Change Your SSI Payee?

Published on: March 8, 2024

When someone qualifies for disability benefits and has difficulty managing their money, a representative payee can be appointed to assist them. In fact, more than eight million people who receive SSI benefits and disability or retirement benefits through Social Security need the assistance of representative payees.

Payees have the legal authority to manage the benefits of Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security retirement, and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries. Authorized representatives do not.

Changing representative payees is relatively straightforward, but you must have a valid reason for doing so. The Social Security Administration must approve the appointment of a new payee just as it approved the original appointment. The following information explains the role of a representative payee and the process of appointing or changing the payee handling your SSI benefits.

What Is A Representative Payee, And Who Needs One?

Federal law authorizes a representative payee to be appointed for beneficiaries receiving SSI, Social Security retirement, and SSDI benefits when managing money is challenging. Minor children and adults who are legally incompetent typically make up the beneficiaries needing assistance handling their finances. Absent evidence to the contrary, the Social Security Administration assumes that adult beneficiaries can manage their finances unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Anyone may submit a request by written application to be appointed as a representative payee. The application process usually requires an in-person meeting at a local Social Security office to complete an application. The beneficiary usually has the right to choose someone to serve as their payee, but it requires approval from the Social Security Administration.

If you have power of attorney authorizing you to handle the financial affairs of a beneficiary receiving SSI disability benefits, you do not automatically have to act as a payee. A power of attorney prepared and signed in the state where the beneficiary resides is not recognized by the United States Treasury Department as granting you the power to handle payments the person receives from the federal government, including federal disability benefits.

What Does A Payee Do?

Once an application is approved, a person appointed to serve as a representative payee becomes responsible for managing the benefits and using them to pay the beneficiary's needs. Needs include the following:

  • Set up a bank account: The preference is a checking account with no bank fees or an account with the lowest fees available. The disability payments from SSI and SSDI should be deposited into the bank account and not co-mingled with money belonging to the payee. When possible, payees are encouraged to establish accounts at banks that pay interest on them.
  • Determine the needs of the beneficiary: Money in the account must be used to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and other expenses needed for the welfare and comfort of the beneficiary.
  • Keep records: A payee must keep accurate records of the money received and payments made on behalf of the beneficiary. These records are essential because the Social Security Administration periodically requests reports from payees.
  • Report changes: Changes in a beneficiary’s medical condition, employment, or other events that could affect their eligibility for benefits, or the amount of disability benefits they are entitled to receive must be reported to Social Security by the payee.

Individuals serving as payees may not collect a fee for what they do on behalf of a beneficiary. Organizations or institutions appointed as payees may collect a fee provided they obtain written approval from the Social Security Administration first.

If you are appointed as a payee, keep in mind that the account you set up cannot be a joint account or only in your name. Accounts set up by a payee must reflect that the money belongs to the beneficiary. Instead, the Social Security Administration recommends setting it up under the beneficiary’s name and your name appearing as the representative payee.

Changing your SSI payee

You can change your representative payee simply by completing a written request at any local Social Security office. The request must be accompanied by a written letter or statement from the new payee agreeing to serve.

Social Security must approve a request to change a payee. The process to change your SSI payee typically takes about one month. Depending on when you begin the process, it can be accomplished before the next scheduled monthly benefit payment.

The process is more complicated when asking to have benefit payments go directly to a beneficiary without a representative payment. A disability advocate at Disability Experts of Florida can assist you through the process.

Question About Representative Payees? Ask A Disability Expert

The disability advocates at Disability Experts of Florida have the experience and knowledge of Social Security laws and regulations to assist you with all disability matters, from initial applications to appeals. If you have a question about appointing or changing a representative payee, someone from Disability Experts of Florida would be happy to assist you. Contact them today for a free consultation.



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