For some New Jersey residents who are seeking or already have been approved for Social Security disability benefits, it will be decided by the Social Security Administration that they need a representative payee to handle their finances. This is not done randomly and the goal is to ensure that the person who is getting SSD benefits is protected.
The SSA will generally pick a person who knows the recipient and is willing to help. It should also be a person who is in frequent contact with the recipient and understands their needs. The recipient can request a specific person to be the representative payee and the SSA will take it into consideration. Some people do not think they need a representative payee or want someone other than the one the SSA has chosen. This decision on the representative can be appealed within 60 days of the decision.
The representative payee will receive the monthly benefits on behalf of the recipient. The money will be used for necessities, such as housing, utilities, food, medical care, dental care, personal care, clothes and rehabilitation for the disabled. After this has been paid, any leftover money can be used to cover past expenses, provide money to the person and pay for entertainment. Money beyond that which is necessary or used for these purposes should be saved. Records must be kept as to how the money is spent and a regular report will be sent to the SSA.
The payee must be told if the person begins or stops working, moves, gets married or divorced, leaves the U.S., is incarcerated, is hospitalized, or is receiving disability benefits but is no longer disabled. If there is a belief that the funds are being misused by the payee, the SSA should be told immediately. When seeking SSD benefits, it might be required that there be a representative payee to protect the person. Understanding the role of the representative payee or dealing with any questions can be accomplished with help from a legal professional experienced in Social Security disability cases.
Source: ssa.gov, "When a Representative Payee Manages Your Money," accessed on Jan. 2, 2018