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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



There are 19 Comments

I'm in the process of moving out of my apartment and into my own. I have a representative payee but I don't need one anymore how can I become my own payee?

I didn't see a clear answer for this. I would call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days. Or call your local Social Security office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on business days.

This is Lisa H of of Harrisburg, IL 62946 and phone number is 618-***-**** and haven't received my verification income reports on both of two children A & A. I didn't know whether or not the staff at Social Security Administration has sent the reports out yet or what. Let me know as soon as possible when you received the email. Thanks Lisa

my wife died a few years ago and i have been the representative payee for my 3 girls. im thinking of getting re-married, would that affect my daughters benefits?

i have been a payee for under on year. I have never been a payee before. i cant find EVERY reciept for money given to the person recieving SSI. am i going to be in trouble?

We don't have direct experience with the representative payee program, so it'd be best to contact the SSA regarding questions.

Representative Payees typically are required to file a report regarding how benefits received were used. These are SSA-623, SSA-6230, or SSA-6234; however, you may complete the form online at

Here's a sample of form 6234 :

I didn't see a requirement for having every receipt. Obviously, however, it's wise to save receipts, especially for larger expenditures.

Also, if you expect some type of dispute (ex. family or friend feels benefits are being misused), then you'll want to retain most every receipt.

same problem, no specific instructions when a payee no longer chooses to serve....and no one answers phone!

How would u go about reporting someone for withholding a disability check from the beneficiary?

is it ok if I dont have recepts for my expendatures to say my child used all of his $ on the ssa6230 report will this rasie a red flag? I did spend it on him I just did not realize I was supposed to keep the recepts. all of his $ went to housing food utilites cell phone clothing ect

I am not sure I'm asking the questions in the correct category...? I am a disabled worker recently beginning to collect SSDI. I am also representative
payee for my minor child who is receiving benefits under my work record. I have 3 questions:
1) Does all the rep payee regulations I am reading about apply to a mother acting as payee for her child (incapable by age and ability) or is it intended mainly to protect a disabled beneficiary requiring the services of a (generally) un-related payee AND
2) When my child reaches 18 can I continue as payee or will I have to prove him officially incapable in some manner? OR
3) Will I have to return his funds to SSA?

1) Yes, I'd say there are two "types" of representative payee (RP). One is for RPs closely related to the beneficiary, and another is a "unrelated third party" that often gets paid to monitor funds for the beneficiary. Both types have a certain reporting level, but the "third party" type often handle funds for many beneficiaries and have additional reporting requirements.

2) Generally, when a child reaches 19 or graduates from high school, benefits end -- unless the child is disabled. See here for a disabled adult child :

3) It's certainly possible for children to receive funds based on a parent's work record. I don't see a need to return "his funds" to the SSA unless there's some type of problem (ex. disability awarded improperly, receipt of funds by able-bodied child after age 19 etc.).

Contact the SSA for your particular case.

Thank you for your reply. I don't think I asked the question clearly - SSA states that when a minor turns 18, the benefits will be paid in their name. My question is, would that be true in the case where there is a rep payee already established? Or would it be necessary to pursue an official determination of incompetence in handling his funds to continue as rep payee?

SSA further states that: "A representative payee who is no longer serving as a payee must return savings or other investments and any interest earned on the funds to us. SSA will reissue the returned funds to either a new representative payee or to a beneficiary currently receiving direct payment." Would that apply in the situation (mother/child) as previously referenced?

Thank you so much.

It seems the question is more along the lines of, "What must the representative payee do as a minor child beneficiary transitions to adulthood?".

My short answer would be to contact the SSA regarding this. A representative payee is responsible for reporting to the SSA any changes in beneficiary circumstances that could affect their eligibility to benefits. Turning 18 would seem to fall into this area of required reporting.

If the child is receiving a benefit for a mental disability, and this disability continues into adulthood (and in fact is the basis of future benefits), then it would seem to follow that a representative payee may be required for the new adult. However, I am not sure of the protocol for this.

Regarding any excess (saved) funds it seems quite clear. The funds are the property of the beneficiary or the SSA, not of any representative payee. If you stop being the representative payee, the saved funds must be turned over either to a new representative payee, the beneficiary himself, or possibly the SSA.

If I'm a representative for my child and they move out of my house, but will just blow their money can I still be their representative and give them a allowance every week so its not gone?

Almost all children under age 18 need a representative payee. If you are the representative payee for the child, this will likely continue. The SSA will only give funds directly to a child in rare circumstances (ex. irresponsible guardian who misuses funds for the child AND the child is exceptionally mature).


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