Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration

SSI and representative payee for mentally disabled

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Depending on one's ability, one may be "mentally disabled" yet still receive benefits. In 2011, about half of those with a "mental impairment" had a representative payee.

Note there are two classes of individuals who must use a representative payee to manage benefits :

  • Adult beneficiaries who are judged legally incompetent; and
  • Children under age 15 (unless they have been legally emancipated).

Beyond those two classes, it is a judgement call made by a Social Security representative.

If a beneficiary has a mental impairment, SSA policy requires development of capability only if there is an indication the beneficiary may not be able to reason properly, is disoriented, has seriously impaired judgment, or cannot communicate with others.

The evaluation of adult disability based on mental disorders requires documentation of a medically determinable impairment(s), consideration of the degree of limitation such impairment(s) may impose on the individual's ability to work, and consideration of whether these limitations have lasted or are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

SSA considers four broad functional areas when deciding whether a mental impairment is severe enough to prevent an individual from working:

  1. activities of daily living;
  2. social functioning;
  3. concentration, persistence, or pace;
  4. episodes of decompensation.

As of June 7, 2011, the OIG had identified approximately 6.5 million beneficiaries who had a mental impairment. Of these 6.5 million beneficiaries, approximately 3 million already required a representative payee.


Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration