Becoming a Representative Payee on a Social Security Check

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Estate Planning and Elder Care Attorney

I have dedicated our blog articles educating you, about the nuances and subtleties in elder care law including estate planning, Medicaid planning, trusts, and so many more areas of expertise accumulated over the many years of practice.  But, today’s blog will be a little different, because today I am going to help you understand how to become the representative payee for a Social Security recipient.  What is a representative payee?  Like a guardian of an incapacitated person, a representative payee receives the check of a Social Security recipient and uses the money to benefit the well-being of the recipient who is incapacitated (or is a minor) and therefore cannot take care of themselves.  While the guardian may become the representative payee, the representative payee doesn’t necessarily have to be the guardian of the person, nor does the guardian automatically become the representative payee by virtue of being the guardian.  The Social Security Administration alone makes that determination, so you must keep that in the back of your mind if you represent someone who is incapacitated.

To become the representative payee, you must go to your local SSA office.  You can find a list at https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp where you can search by zip code.  Before you go, you must have ready a few things.  You will need your government ID, your Social Security number, the contact information and Social Security number of the person you wish to represent, and the contact information of the incapacitated person’s primary physician.  The SSA will then contact the physician to ask about the incapacitated person and whether or not they need someone to be a representative payee for him or her.  If they feel, after speaking to the physician, the person needs a representative payee, you will be approved and sent instructions on how to be a representative payee, including various reports you must complete in regards to how you use the recipient’s Social Security money.

To discuss your NJ Elder Care matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.