A "representative payee" is a person or organization designated to receive Social Security benefit checks on behalf of a beneficiary who may not be able to manage his or her own affairs. The representative payee has the primary responsibility of using the Social Security check for the beneficiary's basic or personal care needs. Usually, the representative payee is a spouse or other relative, friend, or legal guardian. Institutions, such as nursing homes and mental health centers, may also be designated to receive Social Security benefit checks on behalf of a beneficiary.
To have a representative payee appointed for a beneficiary, the Social Security Office must be notified that the individual is incapable of handling his or her own affairs. The Social Security Administration can then appoint a payee, if it decides that this is in the individual's best interest. The SSA makes such decisions based on doctor reports, court decisions, and statements from others who know the beneficiary.
For more information, visit the Social Security Web site: www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/.