Representative Payee (SSA) Law and Legal Definition

Representative Payee

The term Representative Payee is unique to the Social Security Administration (SSA); however the role of representative payee is simply one of agency, that is, the representative payee is the designated agent for a recipient of Social Security benefits whom the SSA has determined to be incapable of managing his or her SS or SSI benefits


As the designated agent of a financially incapable SSA or SSI recipient, the representative payee plays a role similar to that of an agent or attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney, namely, an agent for another, an agent for a disclosed principal. The role of representative payee differs in one significant respect from that of agent or attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney: any grantor under a power of attorney chooses his or her agent; that is not the case with appointment of a representative payee. The Social Security Administration (SSA) chooses and designates the representative payee for a financially incapable recipient of SS or SSI benefits. The recipient of SS or SSI benefits is known as a beneficiary.

Neither a guardian or conservator appointed in a state-court protective proceeding for an incapacitated or financially incapable person, nor an attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney has lawful authority to receive, manage, or administer the SS or SSI benefits paid to a beneficiary. Social security is a matter of federal, not state, law, and state courts lack jurisdiction over the federal government, and ts agencies and programs. Similarly, individuals lack authority over the any government and so may not control or direct SS or SSI benefits.

An existing attorney-in-fact may apply for and may be appointed as the representative payee for a SS or SSI beneficiary. Any person interested in serving as a beneficiary's representative payee should contact the nearest SSA office to apply for appointment as payee. An interested person must submit an application, form SSA-11-BK (Request to be selected as payee) and documents that prove the applicant's identity. The SSA (with certain exceptions) requires that the payee application be completed in a face-to-face interview.

There are two types of representative payees: individual and organizational payees. The SSA never authorizes individual payees to be paid for serving as a beneficiary's payee.

What is a Representative Payee?

A representative payee is an individual or organization that receives Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for a beneficiary who cannot manage or direct the management of his or her money. Representative payees should use the funds for the current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary and save any remaining funds for the beneficiary's future use.

What is a Beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a person who receives Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Social Security and SSI are two different programs; both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).