Why Doesn’t Social Security Use Power of Attorney?

When someone wants to assist a Social Security beneficiary, their first thought will likely to use their Power of Attorney for the purpose. However, they will be dismayed to learn that Social Security doesn’t accept POA, leading to a lot of frustration at the Social Security office.

The reason it isn’t accepted is pretty simple. Power of Attorneys are created by local state law and vary depending on which state you are in. The federal agency doesn’t want to have to separately review each and every POA, as it leads to a lot of paperwork and manpower. In place of accepting a POA, they have federal regulations that are related to beneficiaries that are debilitated. The agency has established criteria under who the agency will deal with. Since federal law trumps state law, there is little the person can do against being rejected.

So, what can you do? There are two options a person has when trying to assist an SS beneficiary:

  • Get appointed as the Social Security beneficiary’s guardian by a court
  • Apply with the SSA as the representative payee of the benefits

How to Apply to be a Representative Payee

Your local Social Security office will require you to fill out form SSA-11 and prove their identity. The form is typically done face-to-face and will require you to also provide your social security number, or the organization’s employer identification number if you are representing an organization.

Duties of a Representative Payee

The payee acts on behalf of the beneficiary, similar to someone who holds power of attorney. They are responsible for handling everything that relates to the benefits that the person would typically do for themselves. Required duties include:

  • Determine needs of beneficiary
  • Use funds to satisfy those needs
  • Report changes and events that affect benefits
  • Report anything that affects your ability to be the representative payee
  • Keep records of all transactions
  • Keep written reports that show proper use of funds
  • Provide necessary information to social service agencies and medical facilities
  • Advocate for proper medical treatment
  • Save leftover money in an interest-bearing account or savings bonds to be used for future needs of the beneficiary
  • Return payments that the beneficiary is not entitled to

If you have a loved one that can no longer make decisions for themselves and they are an SS beneficiary, talk to one of our attorneys at Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr today. We understand the intricacies that come with this aspect of the law and will put our experience to work for you.