Rep Payees are persons or agencies designated by the SSA to handle and manage a beneficiary's benefits for them as they have been adjudged by the court to be unfit. In the case of LPS conservatorship, the public guardian or a fiduciary is often appointed as the rep payee for a conservatee.
When a person comes to the SSA and are awarded benefits for a disability that would be classified as a "serious mental disorder", they would be assigned a rep payee. A rep payee is a person specially assigned to delegate the person's SSI. The rep payee can be a person, company, or third party designated by the SSA. The rep is to in theory is to use the beneficiary's money to pay their rent, buy food, and pay bills. They are to make an accounting of their spending of the beneficiary's money annually.
One example of a fiduciary would be Cornerstone Family Solutions/ professional fiduciary. They are appointed by the SSA and manage a conservatee's funds for them. They would pay for the board and care, medical bills, and other needs the conservatee would need while in the care of the board and care. The conservatee can fight the fiduciary if they desire but they must present solid evidence that they can manage their own affairs.
I have heard many conservatees complain about having a rep payee. And I can understand. Many adults wish to control their own money. It is part of the perks of being an adult; being able to decide who and where your money will go. And when that right is taken away, many conservatees feel like children again. There are some cases where conservatees do need someone else to manage those funds for them for say if they are suffering from mania and recklessly spending money. However, not all mentally ill need the services of a rep payee. This is unfortunately an commonly automatic decision that the SSA makes when dealing with serious mental illness.
**Note the SSA may deduct an amount of the conservatee's funds if they are in a state hospital that is covered by medi-cal. Call your local SSA to determine how much their benefits will be reduced by if this is the case for your conservatee.
Should I become Rep Payee?
If you are interested in serving as someone's rep payee, then you can fill out a form (SSA- 11) applying to become their rep payee. Once the SSA receives this form, they will set up an appointment to see if you are the best person to be the rep payee.. Below are some pros and cons to think about when considering to be someone's rep payee.
*Less restrictive than a conservatorship of the estate
*No court approval needed for appointment
*No bonding needed to be appointed as rep payee
*Keeps conservatee safe from fraud and undue influence
*Help the conservatee budget his or her money from the SSA
*Be in the know about the conservatee's expenses and not be left in the dark
*Conservatee cannot control his or her own money
*Rep payees do not have any control over other financial issues that are not SSI related
*Annual reporting to the court of expenditure of funds
*Strict rules about how the money is spent
*Can be difficult for conservatee to communicate with a fiduciary