How Social Security Decides the Need for a Representative Payee
If you are an adult, when the claims examiner reviews your claim to determine whether you are eligible for benefits, he or she also reviews all the information in your claim file to determine your capability to manage money. Capability means that you have the physical and mental capacity and judgment to either use, or direct someone to use, your funds to take care of your current needs. This includes prioritizing your basic needs of shelter, food, clothing, personal care items, and medical and dental care first. If it is determined that you are not able to do this because of your medical or psychiatric condition, then the Social Security Administration must pay your benefits to a representative payee.
When and How to Appeal a Representative Payee Decision
If you have been advised that a representative payee will be appointed to receive your benefits and you believe that you are capable of making appropriate financial decisions to care for yourself, it can be helpful to discuss the matter with a physician who knows you well. If your doctor agrees that you are capable of handling your funds, then it could be appropriate to appeal, submitting a letter from the doctor that explains why the doctor believes you are capable of handling your own funds. You can find information on how to appeal in our articles “I Was Denied Social Security Disability. What Can I Do?” and “What Is a Social Security Request for Reconsideration?”
If you are under age eighteen, unless you have been legally emancipated, you must have a representative payee to receive and manage your Social Security disability payments. While theoretically a minor could appeal this decision, the likelihood of winning such an appeal is virtually nil.
While you can appeal the need for a payee, if it is found that you need a payee, you cannot appeal the choice of who serves as your payee. You can, of course, provide input into the selection process, but the final decision is Social Security’s.
More Information about Representative Payees
Our article “What Is a Social Security Disability Representative Payee?” outlines the duties of the representative payee who receives your disability payments and information about the payee selection process is available in “How Does Social Security Choose the Representative Payee for My Social Security Disability Benefit?”