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Beneficiary Over Age 18

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

1603. Beneficiary Over Age 18

1603.1 Are payments made directly to individuals over age 18?

Payments are made directly to a beneficiary age 18 or older unless the individual:

  1. Is judged legally incompetent; or

  2. Is mentally incapable of managing his or her payments; or

  3. Is physically incapable of managing or directing the management of his or her payments.

1603.2 What is required for a decision of incapability?

A decision of incapability can be made only if established by convincing evidence. See §§1604-1607 for a discussion of evidence.

1603.3 If the decision has not been made, are the direct payments continued?

Payments generally continue to be paid directly to a beneficiary who is:

  1. Legally competent;

  2. Age 18 or over; and

  3. Receiving direct payment.

Direct payments are made until information and evidence is gathered to determine that a representative payee is needed, and one is appointed.

Last Revised: Aug. 2, 2007

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There are 2 Comments

I have been receiving disability for seven years and have just turned 18. I have a payee where I was underage. My disabilities include Social Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Bipolar, Anxiety/ panic attacks, ADHD, and as of recently Asperger's syndrome. I have an IQ of 120 so I am intellectually capable of understanding finances. I just graduated and am about to go to college in the fall. My grandma is my payee but her mind is deteriorating and I want to know if I can get my disability in my name and if it will affect it or mess with my dedicated savings account. Can you help me?

In general, all children under age 18 require a representative payee regardless of their condition.

As you turn 18, you could become your own payee. To do this, if you are still disabled, you must show SSA that you are now mentally and physically able to handle your money yourself. You could provide:

  • A doctor's statement that there has been a change in your condition and that the doctor believes you are able to care for yourself; or
  • An official copy of a court order saying that the court believes that you can take care of yourself; or
  • Other evidence that shows your ability to take care of yourself.

Note: If the SSA believes your condition has improved to the point that you no longer need a payee, they may reevaluate your eligibility for disability payments.


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