Some individuals who receive Social Security benefits are assigned a representative payee. A representative payee is an organization or an individual who has been appointed by the Social Security Administration. A representative payee manages the Social Security benefits of a person who SSA has determined is unable to manage, or direct the management of, their own benefits.
Representative payees are in charge of making sure an individual’s needs are being met. These needs can include housing costs, food/groceries, clothing, and medical items/copays. This can also include personal spending money. Personal spending can be any amount of money, given to the individual working with the representative payee, to spend how the individual would like.
The amount of personal spending an individual receives varies from person to person and depends on many factors, like the person’s specific budget. However, the individual should be involved in the conversation with the representative payee to determine the needed amount.
All individuals who have representative payees have a right to their personal spending money. It is important for all individuals to have some money that they are able to spend as they want, on what they want.
As we are quickly coming into summer, it is also important for individuals with representative payees to remember they have received three economic impact payments, also known as stimulus payments. These funds are not Social Security funds and representative payees should be providing these funds directly to the individual as quickly as possible. These economic impact payments can be spent however the person wants, and a representative payee should not manage how an individual spends this money.
If your payee is not providing you with personal spending, or is refusing to give you your stimulus payment, there are some steps you can take. First, you can have a conversation with your payee to let them know that the stimulus check is not controlled by the payee. If your payee is not giving you spending money in general, you can talk with them about how much your benefit is and how much your monthly living expenses are. This is called an “accounting,” and individuals have a right to an accounting of how their money is being spent to meet their needs. You also have the right to file a complaint against your representative payee with the Social Security Administration if having a conversation with them isn’t successful. Finally, you can notify us at Disability Rights Maine, and we may be able to help!