SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1601. When does a beneficiary need a representative payee?

1601.1 When does SSA select a representative payee?

When we determine a beneficiary is unable to manage or direct the management of his or her funds, we select either an individual or an organization to serve as a representative payee. If we determine a representative payee is necessary, we say these beneficiaries are incapable of managing their benefits.

1601.2 Must a beneficiary be declared legally incompetent before a representative payee is selected?

No. While it is true that a legally incompetent beneficiary must have a payee, we may determine that other beneficiaries need a payee as well.

We initially presume that all legally competent adult beneficiaries are capable of managing or directing the management of their funds. The facts of a case may convince us that a legally competent beneficiary is not capable and we will select a payee.

We also generally consider beneficiaries under the age of 18 incapable of managing their own funds and in need of a payee.

1601.3 What will cause SSA to select a representative payee?

We will not select a representative payee unless we have convincing evidence that an adult beneficiary is incapable of managing or directing the management of his or her funds. (See §§ 1604-1607 for a discussion of evidence.)

Last Revised: Nov. 16, 2010