SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1605. What is legal evidence of incapability

A court judgment that a beneficiary is legally incompetent, is legal evidence. If there is such a judgment, we will:

  • Obtain a certified copy of the court order;

  • Presume the beneficiary cannot manage payments; and

  • Select an appropriate representative payee.

However, the appointment of a legal guardian alone doesn't necessarily mean the beneficiary is legally incompetent. The court order must specifically address the beneficiary's competency or must contain a statement regarding the individual's ability to handle his/her financial affairs.

If the court order is more than one year old, SSA will obtain a court certification that the order is still in effect.

Similarly, if a court order has restored a beneficiary's competency, SSA will obtain a certified copy of the order.

Note: As used here, a “legal guardian” means a person appointed or authorized by a court, or by law, to assume control of and responsibility for the beneficiary.

Last Revised: Nov. 16, 2010