Administration of changes in your circumstances that could affect your ability to continue to serve as rep payee;
• Complete written reports accounting for the use of funds; and
• Return any payments to which the beneficiary is not entitled to the Social Security Administration.
You cannot be compensated for your duties as representative payee or use a beneficiary’s money for your personal expenses. You cannot put a beneficiary’s Social Security or SSI funds in your or another’s account. However, you can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses that you advance for the beneficiary. If you do this, you should keep records of the expense.
The Social Security Administration recommends that the funds be used for current needs of the person you are representing such as food, clothing, shelter and medical needs or conserved or invested in interest bearing accounts or in savings bonds.
If the beneficiary is receiving care in a facility and is not on Medicaid or is not in a Medicaid certified facility, then the SSA states that the highest priority should be given to the beneficiary’s current maintenance including not just institutional charges but payment for items that will aid in recovery or release from the facility or improving the beneficiary’s condition while there. This could include temporarily maintaining the beneficiary’s residence and, in some cases, assistance with dependent spouse or children.
Where Medicaid is or may become involved, matters can become more complicated. The Medicaid certified institution might become representative payee or, if you continue to handle the accounts, you need to coordinate with Medicaid income and asset requirements. SSI recipients are limited regarding the amount permitted to remain in their account, generally $2,000 for individuals, $3,000 for couples. If you have questions regarding use of the funds, check with the Social Security Administration. As representative payee you are acting in a trusted position. You are a fiduciary. Funds improperly paid or handled could be ordered returned or there could be civil or criminal liability. Janet Colliton, Esq. is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and limits her practice, to elder law, retirement and estate planning, Medicaid, Medicare, life care, and special needs at 790 E. Market St., Suite 250, West Chester, Pa., 19382, 610-4366674, colliton@collitonlaw. com. She is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and, with Jeffrey Jones, CSA, cofounder of Life Transition Services, LLC, a service for families with long term care needs. Tune in on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. to radio WCHE 1520, “50+ Planning Ahead,” with Janet Colliton, Colliton Elder Law Associates, and Phil McFadden, Home Instead Senior Care.