TN 29 (02-03)

GN 00502.005 Direct Payment Prohibitions

A. Policy

The following individuals are prohibited from receiving payments directly:

  • legally incompetent beneficiaries; and

  • children under age 15 (see GN 00502.070 for direct payment to children 15 – 17).

You must appoint a representative payee for these beneficiaries.

1. What is legal evidence of incompetency?

Legal evidence is one type of evidence that establishes an individual's ability to handle his/her financial affairs. There must be a court order in place for a finding that an individual is incompetent.

2. How do i know if someone is legally incompetent?

Evidence of legal incompetence usually takes the form of a court order appointing a legal guardian. However, it's important to note that the appointment of a legal guardian alone doesn't necessarily mean the beneficiary is legally incompetent. The court order must specifically address the beneficiary's competency or must contain a statement regarding the individual's ability to handle his/her financial affairs. If the court order doesn't specify incompetency, the Digest of State Guardianship Laws (see GN 00502.300) can help you determine if the court order represents a finding of legal incompetence.

NOTE: When the court order is unclear on whether or not the beneficiary is incompetent, consider calling the court for clarification.

Does the Digest of State Guardianship Law Establish Incompetency?DevelopmentAction


Additional capability development is not necessary

Appoint a payee


Conduct capability development and make a capability determination

Appoint a payee only if you determine that the beneficiary is incapable

REMEMBER: Even when a court order doesn't establish legal incompetency, it may be used as evidence (to be weighed along with all the other evidence) in your capability determination if it describes the beneficiary's ability or lack of ability to manage funds.

B. Procedure - Legal incompetency

The answers you find to the questions below will help you determine if a beneficiary is incompetent. Document the file with evidence of the court's findings.

1. How do I determine if someone is legally incompetent?

Obtain a certified copy of the court order establishing competency. If the court order does not specifically indicate incompetency, look for statements concerning the beneficiary's ability to handle his or her financial affairs/responsibilities.

2. Does the court order specifically include a finding of or language to indicate legal incompetence?

3. Consult the Digest of State Guardianship Laws (see GN 00502.300). Does the court order meet the criteria for a finding of legal incompetence?

4. Was the court order made more than 1 year ago?

  • If yes, obtain evidence to show that the order is still in effect (see GN 00301.030B.3.); contact the court to obtain this information, if needed, and go to GN 00502.005B.5.

  • If no, determine that the beneficiary is legally incompetent and go to GN 00502.005B.5.

5. Make a copy of the court order or complete an SSA-4385 (Certification of Court Records) to document the file (see GN 00301.115).

If an SSA-4385 is not available, use the Make Note screen in the eRPS (MS INTRANETERPS 015.002 and MS INTRANETERPS 015.003.D) (or complete an RC outside eRPS) to show the following:

  • Whether legal incompetency was found;

  • Name/title of official who signed the order;

  • Date the order was signed;

  • Name of the guardian/conservator;

  • Whether the document is still in effect; and

  • Termination date, if applicable.

ALERT: If you can establish incapability based on convincing evidence (see GN 00502.020 - GN 00502.060), do not delay a payee appointment merely to obtain proof of incompetency. Diary the case for receipt of evidence of legal incompetency.

C. Procedure - Reevaluating payment prohibition

What If a Legally Incompetent Beneficiary Requests Direct Payment?

If a beneficiary who has been found legally incompetent requests direct payment of his/her benefits, you must obtain evidence showing that the beneficiary is now competent. If you cannot obtain such evidence, you must continue representative payment.

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
GN 00502.005 - Direct Payment Prohibitions - 04/15/2016
Batch run: 04/15/2016