REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE PROGRAM
Protection Association has provided Representative Payee
services since 1973. The agency currently serves as
payee for over 1000 individuals in Cuyahoga County who
receive Social Security (SS) and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration (SSA)
administers both the Social Security and SSI programs.
The goal of the Representative Payee program is
to provide confidential, appropriate, protective and
supportive services for Cuyahoga county residents who
• Severely mentally disabled;
• Developmentally disabled;
• Legally incompetent;
• Elderly at risk; and
• Those who have been determined by SSA to have
a drug abuse or alcohol condition.
Through this service, CPA Representative
Payee staff, along with the beneficiary and other involved
individuals, develops a money management plan to ensure
that the needs of the beneficiary in terms of housing,
food, clothing, medical, as well as personal care are
met. As part of this process, staff provides the beneficiary
with education around money management to assist them
in making better choices on how they spend their money.
Staff also encourages the development of a savings account
to help the beneficiary plan for future needs.
The program has affiliations with the
Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services
Cuyahoga County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental
and Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board (www.cccmhb.org)
What is a Representative Payee?
A representative payee is an individual
or organization that receives Social Security and/or
SSI payments for someone who cannot manage or direct
someone else to manage his or her money. A beneficiary
is a person who receives Social Security and/or SSI
The main responsibility as a representative payee is
to use the funds to pay for the current and foreseeable
needs of the beneficiary.
There are two kinds of representative
1. Individual representative payee - This could be someone
that a beneficiary lives with or a family member or
friend who does not live with the beneficiary. It could
also be a lawyer, a legal guardian, or a volunteer for
a government or non-profit agency.
2. Organizational representative payee - This category
includes social service agencies, institutions, and
an official of a state or local government agency or
a financial organization. Some organizational payees,
called Fee-for-Service Payees, are permitted to charge
the beneficiary a fee for their services. The payee
must file a request and be approved before they can
collect a fee.
Note: Having power of attorney or a joint bank account
with the beneficiary is not the same thing as being
a representative payee.
Consumer Protection Association
is an Organizational Representative Payee.
Who is eligible to receive
SS and/or SSI benefits?
Workers qualify for Social Security benefits after they
have worked under covered employment for a specified
time period and had Federal Insurance Contributions
Act (FICA) taxes withheld from their earnings. When
the worker retires or becomes disabled, he or she becomes
eligible for Social Security benefits. A worker's spouse
or children may also become eligible for Social Security
benefits if the worker retires, becomes disabled or
dies. The amount that someone receives depends on the
age at which he or she retires, becomes disabled, dies
how long he or she worked under the Social Security
program, the amount of earnings, etc.
To receive SSI, a person must be 65 or older, blind
or disabled and must have limited income. In order to
qualify, he or she cannot have over $2,000 ($3,000 for
a couple) in countable resources. (Note: Some resources,
such as the home where the beneficiary lives and one
car, are usually not counted.) Children may receive
SSI due to disability or blindness. SSA administers
a payment called the federal benefit rate (FBR) that
is paid out of General Revenues, not the Social Security
Trust Fund. Some states supplement this amount. The
FBR is usually reduced if the individual has other income
such as cash or in-kind income, which can include food
or housing. Some individuals may receive both Social
Security and/or SSI payments; eligibility for benefits
depends on the individual meeting the requirements for
Who Needs a Representative
SSA assumes adult beneficiaries are
capable of managing their money unless there is legal,
medical or lay evidence to the contrary. Having a representative
payee is not an option or a choice. SSA appoints a representative
payee when a beneficiary is determined incapable of
managing or directing someone else to manage their Social
Security and/or SSI payments.
The law requires that some beneficiaries have a representative
payee. Those required to have a payee include:
• Minor children under age 15 (For children age
15 - 17, SSA policy requires a representative payee,
unless an exception is granted.);
• Legally incompetent adults; and
• Disabled adults who are determined by SSA to
be incapable, and who SSA has determined to have a drug
addiction or alcohol (DAA) condition.
If a beneficiary is receiving their own Social Security
and/or SSI payments and they lose their ability to manage
their money, they can be reported to the SSA (1-800-772-1213).
When this occurs, SSA will obtain medical or lay evidence
to determine if the beneficiary is capable of managing
his or her payments. If the beneficiary is determined
to be incapable, SSA will appoint a representative payee.
Special Needs of Beneficiaries with a Drug Addiction
or Alcohol Condition
Disabled adults who are determined by SSA to be incapable,
and who SSA has determined to have a drug addiction
or alcohol condition must have a representative payee.
Organizations and agencies are preferred representative
payees for these beneficiaries because they already
serve the mentally ill, substance abusers and the homeless.
These agencies are aware of the special needs of these
individuals and how financial resources can help to
meet those needs. SSA and local organizations and agencies
have established mutually beneficial working relationships.
To learn more about Consumer Protection
Association’s Representative Payee program or
to make a referral for payee services, please call 216/881-3434
or 216/472-0286 Monday – Thursday from 9:00 a.m.
to 5:00 p.m. and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
For additional information about Social
Security programs including the Representative Payee
Program, visit the Social Security Administrations website
at www.ssa.gov or phone the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213
between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on business days. Individuals
who are deaf or hard of hearing can call the SSA toll-free
TTY number at 1-800-325-0778 between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00
p.m. on business days. If you need a foreign language
interpreter, Social Security will provide one free of
charge upon request.