Representative Payees Help You Manage Your Social Security

Some people who receive monthly Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments may need help managing their money. When we receive information that shows you need help, we’ll work with you to find the most suitable representative payee to manage your benefits. A representative payee receives your monthly benefit payment on your behalf and must use the money to pay for your current needs, including:

• Housing and utilities.
• Food.
• Medical and dental expenses.
• Personal care items.
• Clothing.
• Rehabilitation expenses (if you have a disability).

If you need help managing your benefits, tell a Social Security representative that there is someone you want to be your representative payee. Your representative payee should be someone you trust and see often, and who clearly understands your needs. Social service agencies, nursing homes or other organizations are also qualified to be a representative payee. Ask them to contact us.

You can write to us within 60 days of being assigned a representative payee if you don’t agree that you need one or if you want a different representative payee.

We also offer an option, called, Advance Designation, which allows you to designate now someone to be your representative payee in the future. In the event you can no longer make your own financial decisions, you and your family will have peace of mind knowing that someone you trust may be appointed to manage your benefits for you.

You can submit your advance designation request when you apply for benefits or after you are already receiving benefits. You may do so through your personal my Social Security account at or by calling and speaking to a Social Security representative.

You can find more information at

Q & A

Q: Can I refuse to give my Social Security number to a private business?
A: Yes, you can refuse to disclose your Social Security number, and you should be careful about giving out your number. But, be aware, the person requesting your number can refuse services if you don’t give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone’s number and use it for any purpose that doesn’t violate a federal or state law. To learn more about your Social Security number, visit

Q: I’m applying for disability benefits. Do I automatically receive Medicare benefits if I’m approved for disability benefits?
A: You will receive Medicare after you receive disability benefits for 24 months. When you become eligible for disability benefits, we will automatically enroll you in Medicare. We start counting the 24 months from the month you were entitled to receive disability, not the month when you received your first payment. Special rules apply to people with permanent kidney failure and those with “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Learn more by reading our publication, Disability Benefits, at

Q: How do I apply for disability benefits? How long does it take to get a decision after I apply for disability benefits?
A: You can apply for disability benefits online at To get a decision on your disability application usually takes three to five months. The timeframe can vary depending on:

• The nature of your disability.
• How quickly we can get your medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source.
• Whether it’s necessary to send you for a medical examination.
• Whether we review your application for quality purposes.

Create or sign in to your personal my Social Security account at to check your claim status.

Q: I just got a notice from Social Security that said my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case is being reviewed. What does this mean?
A: Social Security reviews every SSI case from time to time to make sure the individuals who are receiving payments should continue to get them. The review also determines whether individuals are receiving the correct amounts. Learn more about SSI at

Q: I plan to retire in spring. How soon can I file for my Social Security benefits?
A: You can file four months before you plan to receive benefits. Go ahead and apply now if you plan to retire when winter’s frost finally lets up. To apply, go to Applying online has never been easier—you can do it from the comfort of your home. All you need is 15 minutes and internet access.