TN 33 (01-06)

GN 00502.130 Factors to Consider in Evaluating Payee Applicants

A. Policy

When a beneficiary needs a payee, appoint the person, agency, organization or institution that you believe will best serve the interests of the beneficiary. (See GN 03980.070 when the payee applicant is an SSA employee.)

B. Procedure

1. What Factors Should I Consider When Evaluating Payee Applications?

There are many factors to consider when you evaluate payee applicants including the following:

  • Does the applicant show concern for the beneficiary's well being?

  • Does the applicant appear able to handle his/her own affairs? NEVER APPOINT AS PAYEE SOMEONE WHO HAS A PAYEE.

  • Is the applicant knowledgeable about the beneficiary's current and foreseeable needs?

  • Does the applicant appear to have the beneficiary's best interests at heart and seem able to exercise good judgment?

  • Does the applicant have custody of or live in close proximity to the beneficiary?

  • Is there a family relationship between the applicant and the beneficiary?

  • Is there a financial relationship between the applicant and the beneficiary? (See GN 00502.135.)

  • Is there a legal relationship between the applicant and the beneficiary? A beneficiary's legal guardian must receive notice of any action affecting the beneficiary. However, the guardian may not always be the best payee candidate. A legal guardian's suitability to act as payee should be evaluated just as any other candidate's suitability is evaluated.

  • Do disqualifying factors exist? (Has this applicant been convicted of a felony or has misuse been proven?).

    NOTE: When information is available which shows that the payee applicant (who is a parent with custody) suffers from a substance abuse condition but is not receiving disability benefits, develop to determine whether the child will remain in the parent's custody or be placed in foster care. Investigate the custody issue fully with the Department of Social Services to ensure that the child's rights are protected before making a determination on whether to appoint the parent.

    REMINDER: Be alert to situations than may indicate any type of fraudulent activity.

2. What if Two Applicants Seem Equally Qualified?

If, after considering all the above factors, two payee applicants seem equally qualified, consider the following in making your final decision on the representative payee appointment:

  • Does the applicant have a past history of providing good service?

  • Is this applicant eager to serve?

  • Does the beneficiary prefer one payee applicant over the other?

REMEMBER: Before appointing a successor payee, contact the current payee for his/her views, unless the payee is no longer qualified (see GN 00504.100B.1.).

3. What if the Applicant is an Organization?

Organizational payees usually have access to greater resources and community contacts. In addition to all the factors listed above in evaluating an organizational payee applicant, the following are some additional factors to weigh. Consider whether the organization:

  • Demonstrates effective internal communication (i.e., good communication between case management and financial management components);

  • Has a stable presence in the community (i.e., isn’t likely to go out of business);

  • Demonstrates sound financial management policies (i.e., has a history of being current in its own financial obligations);

  • Has adequate staff and resources to serve its clients);

  • Holds funds in protected accounts;

  • Has adequate recordkeeping systems to ensure that the client’s needs are met and benefits are properly administered;

  • Voluntarily receives benefits/payments via direct deposit.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502130
GN 00502.130 - Factors to Consider in Evaluating Payee Applicants - 01/31/2006