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Appointment of a Representative Payee

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


1600. Appointment of a Representative Payee

1600.1 What is a representative payee?

A representative payee is a person or organization SSA selects to receive and manage benefits on behalf of an incapable or legally incompetent beneficiary.

1600.2 What is SSA's policy on appointment of representative payees?

Our policy is that legally competent adult beneficiaries have the right to manage their own funds. However, where there is evidence that a beneficiary is not able to manage or direct the management of payments in his or her own best interest, representative payment may be made.

1600.3 What does this chapter cover?

This chapter provides guidance on:

  1. What constitutes incapability to manage or direct the management of funds;

  2. What determines the need for and selection of a representative payee; and

  3. What is a representative payee's proper use of payments.

Last Revised: Aug. 2, 2007



There are 8 Comments

i want to no why i have to have a payee.
i have been my own payee for 3 years. i pay my bill and the money i have left i buy clothes and food with.

If you are not able to care for yourself, or have a mental disorder,
The SSI Doctor will let them know if you are or are not capable of
handling your own affairs.

My wife is my payee but i want somebody else to handle this for me, can i change this to a new person

In general, you or your representative payee may, at any time, request that SSA change or terminate the payee arrangement. Following such a request, SSA will investigate the situation and make a determination.

Please contact SSA regarding this.

I am the payee of my grandson that also lives with me. My grandsons mom wants him to come live with her. I am requesting to have the payee to be changed. I would like to know what do I need to do for this to be done?

I could not find clear guidance on changing a representative payee. I suggest having the new representative payee contact their nearest Social Security office. They likely will have to fill out form SSA-11. The office can help with the transfer. Here is a relevant excerpt :

You should contact the SSA office nearest you to apply to be a payee. You must then submit an application, form SSA-11 (Request to be selected as payee) and documents to prove your identity. You will need to provide your social security number or if you represent an organization, the organization’s employer identification number. SSA requires you to complete the payee application in a face-to-face interview (with certain exceptions).

I was appointed Representative Payee for an individual and since appointment the check that was issued to her has her last name incorrect. All of our paper work has the correct last name and the check has her maiden name. Her social security card has her married name, what documents do I need to bring in to get this corrected?

This isn't an exact match for your circumstances, but the SSA typically asks for :

  • Your original birth certificate or other proof of birth. We cannot accept a photocopy of your proof of birth unless it is certified by the office that issued the original.
  • Your original citizenship or naturalization papers. We cannot accept photocopies of your citizenship or naturalization documents unless they are certified by the office that issued the original.
  • Your U.S. military service paper(s) (e.g., DD214 - Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty). This can be a photocopy.
  • Your W-2 Form(s) and/or self-employed tax returns for last year. This can be a photocopy.


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