TN 56 (07-20)

GN 00502.023 Developing Legal Evidence of Capability

A. Legal evidence of capability

Legal evidence is required when there is an allegation that the beneficiary is legally incompetent. There must be a court order in place for finding that an individual is legally incompetent. If a court establishes that the beneficiary is incompetent, the beneficiary must receive benefits through a representative payee (payee) and no other capability development is necessary.

B. How to determine if the beneficiary is legally incompetent

Complete the following actions when there is an allegation of legal incompetence.

1. Obtain a certified copy of the current court order

You must obtain a certified copy of the current court order. Evidence of legal incompetence usually takes the form of a court order appointing a legal guardian.

IMPORTANT: For instructions on when you do not have to delay a payee appointment while waiting to obtain a court order, see GN 00502.023E.

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

The court appointment of a legal guardian does not necessarily mean the beneficiary is legally incompetent. The court order must specifically address the beneficiary's legal competence or must contain a statement regarding the individual's ability to handle their financial affairs. If the court order does not specify legal incompetence, consult the Digest of State Guardianship Laws (see GN 00502.300) to help you determine if the court order represents a finding of legal incompetence or indicates the need for a payee. Each State synopsis provides the conditions under which the court’s order constitutes a finding of legal incompetence. Look for statements concerning the beneficiary's ability to handle their financial affairs and responsibilities. When the court order is unclear on whether or not the beneficiary is incompetent, consider calling the court for clarification (see United States Court Locator). Power of attorney makes no finding about an individual’s capability or legal competence (see GN 00502.139).

If the answer is:

3. Additional capability development required

You must:

  • Complete capability development and make a capability determination, per GN 00502.001 through GN 00502.075.

  • Treat the court order as lay evidence per GN 00502.030.

  • Scan a copy of the court order into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed) under the beneficiary's claim number or eView under the Beneficiary's Own Account Number (BOAN).

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

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

If:

  • no, go to GN 00502.023B.5.

  • yes, obtain evidence to show that the court order showing legal incompetence is still in effect (see GN 00301.030B.3). Contact the court to obtain this information, if needed. Once you obtain evidence the court order is still in effect, follow GN 00502.023B.5. NOTE: If the court order is not in effect and there is a new court order follow GN 00502.023B.1.

5. Additional capability development not required

You must:

  • Appoint a payee.

  • Scan a copy of the court order into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed) under the beneficiary's claim number or eView under the BOAN.

  • Document legal incompetence in the electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) per MS 07409.007 Legal Guardian Information.

C. Obtaining a new court order when a legally incompetent beneficiary requests direct payment

If a beneficiary requests direct payment of their benefits and:

  • eRPS already includes documentation on the Legal Guardian Details screen (MS 07420.011); or

  • NDRed or eView contains a copy of the court order that shows a beneficiary is legally incompetent.

You must obtain the new court order showing the beneficiary is now legally competent. If you cannot obtain such evidence, you must continue payment through a payee.

If you obtain a new court order that shows the beneficiary is now legally competent, follow the additional instructions in GN 00502.055C.

D. Making payee changes after SSA records already include documentation and a court order that a beneficiary is legally incompetent

If SSA records already include documentation and a court order that a beneficiary is legally incompetent, and you take a subsequent payee application to change the payee, you must:

  • Confirm in eRPS that the court order is in SSA records.

  • Ask the payee applicant and current payee if there has been any changes in the court order.

    • If yes, follow the instructions in GN 00502.023B.

    • If no, document the current payee application, per MS 07409.007 Legal Guardian Information, with the information already documented on the Legal Guardian Details Screen (MS 07420.011).

E. Requirement to obtain the court order after you established a beneficiary incapable based on convincing evidence

If you can establish incapability based on convincing evidence by following GN 00502.001 through GN 00502.075, do not delay a payee appointment merely to obtain a court order. However, because you have an allegation of legal incompetence, you must still:

  • Obtain the court order within 10 calendar days. Diary the case for 10 calendar days per MS 07408.007 with CRTOR for receipt of the court order.

  • After you receive the court order:

    • Document the court order details of legal incompetence in eRPS per MS 07409.007.

    • Scan a copy of the court order into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed) under the beneficiary's claim number or eView under the BOAN.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502023
GN 00502.023 - Developing Legal Evidence of Capability - 07/16/2020
Batch run: 07/16/2020
Rev:07/16/2020