Now, before I get started, some of you may ask: “What is a representative payee?”. A representative payee is a person or entity designated by the Social Security Administration to maintain financial responsibility for a claimant’s benefits. In other words, the representative payee receives your money on your behalf. Some people hate it when they receive disability benefits and find that they may need a representative payee. Don’t take it personally. The Social Security Administration has reasons for deeming it necessary to set up a representative payee. Here are a few:
a. You may have cognitive problems.
I never like to talk about people’s psychiatric conditions. However, the reality is that some people have mental conditions that prevent them from handling their own affairs. These mental conditions may make you vulnerable to being taken advantage of by other people. So it’s important that you have someone who is going to make sure that your financial affairs remain in order.
b. You may have drug problems
There was a point in time when people could get disability benefits for being on drugs. However, the SSA has changed that policy. Now, the administration wants to ensure that people are not using their disability benefits to obtain drugs. This policy also applies to alcohol as well. Your disability benefits are designed to support your financial lifestyle. Your benefits are not designed to support any type of illegal drug or alcohol habit.
c. You may be young.
Under social security regulations, anyone under the age of 18 is not permitted to handle his/her own finances.
d. You may have had a legal problem with your money in the past.
If your file records indicate that you have had any legal problems with handling money, the SSA may make the determination that it is in your best interest for someone else to take care of your money. For instance, if you have ever been arrested for fraud or theft, the SSA may have a concern about your ability to handle your financial affairs.
It’s important to remember that the money you receive from the government is federal money and taxpayer dollars. As such, the government must take all steps necessary to not only protect you, but also your money.