Who Can Be a Representative Payee?



An administrative law judge (“ALJ”) may determine that certain claimants are disabled to the extent that they cannot manage or handle the benefits they are to receive. In those cases, the ALJ will state that a representative payee should be named to handle the funds on the claimant’s behalf. The SSA recently issued a proposed rule regarding who can be a representative payee. It did this because Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 became law in April 2018. The Act requires the SSA to perform criminal background checks on most folks who apply to become representative payees, and to repeat the check every five years.

The SSA’s rule precludes people from being representative payees who have certain felony convictions such as human trafficking, rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, first-degree homicide, sexual assault, fraud, robbery, forgery, abuse or neglect, and identity theft. Anyone who is convicted for attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above is also precluded from being a representative payee. However, there are five instances that the SSA would consider together with the conviction to determine if a person was able to be a representative payee. Those are  if the person applying to be the representative payee is 1) the custodial parent of the minor child beneficiary; 2) if the beneficiary is over the age of 22 and the disability began prior to that date; 3) the custodial spouse, grandparent of a minor child or legal guardian of the beneficiary; 4) was previously the representative payee of a child who was younger than 18 but has since turned 18 and is still eligible for benefits; and 5) the person received a pardon for his or her conviction.

Your social security disability lawyer can help you determine whether an ALJ would likely require that you have a representative payee and who would be able to best serve in that role.