If you, your child, or a loved one are beginning to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it’s important to know that there aren’t technically limits to what those funds can be used for, but it’s a great idea to keep meticulous records of how the money is spent. This is especially important for those in the role of “representative payee,” who are managing the funds on behalf of the beneficiary.
How a Representative Payee Should Manage SSI Funds
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Representative Payment Program designates a “payee” on behalf of the beneficiary to manage funds. Generally, this person is a trusted family member or friend. (Additionally, the beneficiary can name up to three people to manage funds should the primary person be unable to do so.)
Representative Payees are responsible for keeping records of how much money was earned and how those funds are spent. The SSA’s Protection and Advocacy System does have the right to review those records at any time. (In Washington, Disability Rights Washington handles payee review while Disability Rights Idaho manages issues in that state. These non-profits exist primarily to protect the rights of the disabled.) The Payee must also report any changes in income on behalf of the beneficiary. Although the Payee can save funds in a maintenance account for later use, that account must not exceed $2,000.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Report Changes to the SSA
The SSA has resources set aside to investigate fraud and misrepresentation of income. They clearly state that if you don’t report changes to your personal income, give false information or withhold information, they can withhold money from your monthly payment or withhold the payment altogether. Penalties range from $25-$100 per month. They can also stop your payments from 6-24 months, depending on the severity of your misrepresentation.
The first step to getting SSI funds is to complete the application process through the SSA, which often results in an initial denial. If you believe you’ve been wrongfully denied, you may have additional rights and appeal options open to you. In Washington and Idaho, Schott Law is a trusted source for Social Security claims. Call (509) 328-5789 to learn more.