§ 416.640. Use of benefit payments.

(a) Current maintenance. We will consider that payments we certify to a representive payee have been used for the use and benefit of the beneficiary if they are used for the beneficiary's current maintenance. Current maintenance includes costs incurred in obtaining food, shelter, clothing, medical care and personal comfort items.

Example:  A Supplemental Security Income beneficiary is entitled to a monthly benefit of $264. The beneficiary's son, who is the representative payee, disburses the benefits in the following manner: Rent and Utilities $166 Medical 20 Food 60 Clothing 10 Miscellaneous 8 The above expenditures would represent proper disbursements on behalf of the beneficiary.

(b) Institution not receiving Medicaid funds on beneficiary's behalf. If a beneficiary is receiving care in a Federal, State, or private institution because of mental or physical incapacity, current maintenance will include the customary charges for the care and services provided by an institution, expenditures for those items which will aid in the beneficiary's recovery or release from the institution, and nominal expenses for personal needs (e.g., personal hygiene items, snacks, candy) which will improve the beneficiary's condition. Except as provided under § 416.212, there is no restriction in using SSI benefits for a beneficiary's current maintenance in an institution. Any payments remaining from SSI benefits may be used for a temporary period to maintain the beneficiary's residence outside of the institution unless a physician has certified that the beneficiary is not likely to return home.

Example:  A hospitalized disabled beneficiary is entitled to a monthly benefit of $264. The beneficiary, who resides in a boarding home, has resided there for over 6 years. It is doubtful that the beneficiary will leave the boarding home in the near future. The boarding home charges $215 per month for the beneficiary's room and board. The beneficiary's representative payee pays the boarding home $215 (assuming an unsuccessful effort was made to negotiate a lower rate during the beneficiary's absence) and uses the balance to purchase miscellaneous personal items for the beneficiary. There are no benefits remaining which can be conserved on behalf of the beneficiary. The payee's use of the benefits is consistent with our guidelines.

(c) Institution receiving Medicaid funds on beneficiary's behalf. Except in the case of a beneficiary receiving benefits payable under § 416.212, if a beneficiary resides throughout a month in an institution that receives more than 50 percent of the cost of care on behalf of the beneficiary from Medicaid, any payments due shall be used only for the personal needs of the beneficiary and not for other items of current maintenance.

Example:  A disabled beneficiary resides in a hospital. The superintendent of the hospital receives $30 per month as the beneficiary's payee. The benefit payment is disbursed in the following manner, which would be consistent with our guidelines: Miscellaneous canteen items $10 Clothing 15 Conserved for future needs of the beneficiary 5

(d) Claims of creditors. A payee may not be required to use benefit payments to satisfy a debt of the beneficiary, if the debt arose prior to the first month for which payments are certified to a payee. If the debt arose prior to this time, a payee may satisfy it only if the current and reasonably foreseeable needs of the beneficiary are met.

Example:  A disabled beneficiary was determined to be eligible for a monthly benefit payment of $208 effective April 1981. The benefits were certified to the beneficiary's brother who was appointed as the representative payee. The payee conserved $27 of the benefits received. In June 1981 the payee received a bill from a doctor who had treated the beneficiary in February and March 1981. The bill was for $175. After reviewing the beneficiary's current needs and resources, the payee decided not to use any of the benefits to pay the doctor's bill. (Approximately $180 a month is required for the beneficiary's current monthly living expenses—rent, utilities, food, and insurance—and the beneficiary will need new shoes and a coat within the next few months.) Based upon the above, the payee's decision not to pay the doctor's bill is consistent with our guidelines.

(e) Dedicated accounts for eligible individuals under age 18. (1) When past-due benefit payments are required to be paid into a separate dedicated account (see § 416.546), the representative payee is required to establish in a financial institution an account dedicated to the purposes described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section. This dedicated account may be a checking, savings or money market account subject to the titling requirements set forth in § 416.645. Dedicated accounts may not be in the form of certificates of deposit, mutual funds, stocks, bonds or trusts.

(2) A representative payee shall use dedicated account funds, whether deposited on a mandatory or permissive basis (as described in § 416.546), for the benefit of the child and only for the following allowable expenses—

(i) Medical treatment and education or job skills training;

(ii) If related to the child's impairment(s), personal needs assistance; special equipment; housing modification; and therapy or rehabilitation; or

(iii) Other items and services related to the child's impairment(s) that we determine to be appropriate. The representative payee must explain why or how the other item or service relates to the impairment(s) of the child. Attorney fees related to the pursuit of the child's disability claim and use of funds to prevent malnourishment or homelessness could be considered appropriate expenditures.

(3) Representative payees must keep records and receipts of all deposits to and expenditures from dedicated accounts, and must submit these records to us upon our request, as explained in §§ 416.635 and 416.665.

(4) The use of funds from a dedicated account in any manner not authorized by this section constitutes a misapplication of benefits. These misapplied benefits are not an overpayment as defined in § 416.537; however, if we determine that a representative payee knowingly misapplied funds in a dedicated account, that representative payee shall be liable to us in an amount equal to the total amount of the misapplied funds. In addition, if a recipient who is his or her own payee knowingly misapplies benefits in a dedicated account, we will reduce future benefits payable to that recipient (or to that recipient and his or her spouse) by an amount equal to the total amount of the misapplied funds.

(5) The restrictions described in this section and the income and resource exclusions described in §§ 416.1124(c)(20) and 416.1247 shall continue to apply until all funds in the dedicated account are depleted or eligibility for benefits terminates, whichever comes first. This continuation of the restrictions and exclusions applies in situations where funds remain in the account in any of the following situations—

(i) A child attains age 18, continues to be eligible and receives payments directly;

(ii) A new representative payee is appointed. When funds remaining in a dedicated account are returned to us by the former representative payee, the new representative payee must establish an account in a financial institution into which we will deposit these funds, even if the amount is less than that prescribed in § 416.546; or

(iii) During a period of suspension due to ineligibility as described in § 416.1320, administrative suspension, or a period of eligibility for which no payment is due.

[47 FR 30475, July 14, 1982, as amended at 61 FR 10278, Mar. 13, 1996; 61 FR 67206, Dec. 20, 1996; 76 FR 453, Jan. 5, 2011]