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Social Security: Dealing with the “Red Tape”

How do you get the Social Security Administration to listen to you when you act on a behalf of a loved one?  Good Question.

Recently, one of our clients wanted to change the home address for her husband who could not make the request directly. SSA refused to act on her request stating that she must be a representative payee.

But she did not want to change where the check was deposited and she did not want to get a check payable to her as representative payee. What to do?

The solution is for her to be named as an “Authorized Representative” on the account and not as a Representative Payee.  Well, what is the difference?

Authorized Representative – An Authorized Representative is an attorney or other qualified individual appointed by a claimant to represent the claimant in doing business with SSA. There may be more than one Authorized Representative appointed to a claimant.

All Authorized Representatives who practice before the SSA must comply with the Rules of Conduct and Standards of Responsibility for Representatives.

The appointment for an Authorized Representative must be in writing and must be filed with SSA. The Authorized Representative cannot charge or collect a fee for services without written approval from the Social Security Administration, even if the claim is denied.

Representative Payee – A Representative Payee is an individual or organization appointed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to receive Social Security and/or SSI benefits for someone who is not able to manage or direct someone else to manage his or her money.

A Representative Payee is charged with using the benefits to pay for any current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary, and properly save any benefits that exceed the beneficiary’s current needs. A Representative Payee is responsible for maintaining records of expenses, and must provide the SSA with an accounting of how benefits were used or saved upon request. You cannot collect a fee for being a Representative Payee, unless you are a qualified organizational payee who has received written approval from SSA.

The law requires that all minor children and all incompetent adults have a Representative Payee . Unless an exception applies, SSA will require you to complete the Representative Payee application in a face-to-face interview. In order to become a Representative Payee , you must then submit an application, form SSA-11, and documents to prove your identity.

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