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What are the responsibilities of a representative payee?

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1616. What are the responsibilities of a representative payee?

The responsibilities of a representative payee are to:

  1. Determine the beneficiary's current and future needs and to use the funds in the best interests of the beneficiary, conforming to SSA regulations and policies;

  2. Apply the benefit payments only for the beneficiary's use and welfare (see §1617);

  3. Maintain a continuing awareness of the beneficiary's needs and condition. If the beneficiary does not live with the representative payee, this should be done by contact, such as visiting the beneficiary and consultations with custodians;

  4. Keep written records of all payments received from SSA along with receipts to show how funds were spent and/or saved on behalf of the beneficiary;

  5. Report to us any event that will affect the amount of payments the beneficiary receives or the right of the beneficiary to Social Security or SSI payments;

  6. Give us written reports accounting for the use of the funds, when requested to do so;

  7. Notify us of any change in his or her circumstances that would indicate he or she is no longer suitable to serve as payee or would affect the payee's performance; and

  8. Return conserved funds to SSA when no longer serving as the beneficiary's representative payee (see §1622).

Last Revised: Aug. 2, 2007

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