TN 68 (08-23)

SI 00810.120 Income Determinations Involving Agents

A. Introduction

This section deals with the actions of agents who conduct financial transactions on behalf of others, and the income policies that apply to such transactions.

An SSI recipient may be an agent for another person or have an agent acting on their behalf. When an agent takes part in a financial transaction that generates countable income, SSA must determine if the income is chargeable to the agent or to the SSI recipient by evaluating whether the agent acted on their own behalf or on behalf of the person the agent represented.


References to an “SSI recipient” in this section include the SSI claimant and all individuals whose income and resources are subject to deeming.

B. Definitions

1. Agent

An “agent” is a person or organization acting on behalf of another person or organization. The term “agent” applies to all individuals who act in a formal or informal fiduciary capacity, regardless of their titles (e.g., representative payees, guardians, conservators, etc.).

2. Income

Income is any item an individual receives in cash or in-kind that can be used to meet their food or shelter needs (See SI 00810.005 – What is Income?).

C. Policy - SSI Recipient is an Agent

1. General Income Counting Rules

  • Monies an SSI recipient receives in their capacity as an agent on anothers behalf are not income to the SSI recipient.

  • Monies an SSI recipient receives for use on their own behalf are evaluated using regular income rules (See SI 00810.001).

2. Deposits to a Bank Account an Agent Held for Another Person

a. Account Correctly Titled

Deposits to the account are not income to the SSI recipient who is acting as an agent for another, if the title or designation of the bank account held for the other person reflects the agency relationship (See GN 00603.010, GN 02402.050 and GN 02402.055 for correct account titling).

b. Account Incorrectly Titled

Deposits to an incorrectly titled account are income to the SSI recipient acting as an agent for another, unless the SSI recipient deposits the money into the account for another person and disburses or intends to disburse the money from the account on the other person’s behalf (See SI 01120.020 for instructions concerning the treatment of resources when an agent is involved.)

3. Fees Received by an Agent

Agents are sometimes authorized to keep part of the funds they receive on behalf of another. An SSI recipient acting as an agent is charged with unearned income when they receive fees, commissions, or contributions for services they rendered.

4. Benefits Misused by an Agent

  • If an agent who is an SSI recipient misuses another’s funds, the misused funds are unearned income to the agent in the month received unless the agent makes restitution.

  • If an agent who is an SSI recipient makes restitution for the funds they misused, the agent is not charged with unearned income.

5. Receipt and Use of Funds from an Absent Household Member

An individual frequently leaves home (e.g., is confined to a Title XIX facility) and all or part of their income is turned over to someone maintaining the home. When funds are turned over to an SSI recipient, the guidelines below apply for determining if the recipient is acting as an agent.

a. When the SSI Recipient is Assumed to be Acting as an Agent

Absent evidence to the contrary (See SI 00810.120C.5.b.), assume the SSI recipient is acting as an agent if they allege the funds received are being:

  • used to maintain the home for the absent household member; or

  • used on behalf of the absent household member in some other manner (e.g., paying the absent individual’s life insurance premiums).

b. When the Absent Spouse is in a Medicaid Facility

If an SSI recipient, who is living at home, has an absent spouse living in a Medicaid facility, the assumption in SI 00810.120C.5.a. may not apply. Further development is required to determine if the SSI recipient is acting as an agent for the absent spouse.

  • The assumption in SI 00810.120C.5.a. does not apply, if the State has determined that a certain amount of the institutionalized spouse’s income should be “assigned” to the at-home SSI recipient and the “assigned” amount is actually made available as cash income to the at-home SSI recipient for their own use. The cash income made available is unearned income to the SSI recipient. (States may use other terms for this income, such as “diverted income” or “protective maintenance income.”) In this situation, the SSI recipient is not acting as an agent because the money has been assigned to meet their own needs.

  • The assumption in SI 00810.120C.5.a. does apply, if the State does not assign a portion of the institutionalized spouse’s income to the at-home SSI recipient.


    The amount of money that an SSI recipient uses on behalf of the absent spouse is not cash income to the SSI recipient. However, the money may be outside in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) from the absent spouse when the at-home SSI recipient uses the money to pay the household operating expenses (See SI 00835.350).

REMINDER: If one member of an eligible couple is temporarily absent due to confinement in a Title XIX facility (See SI 00835.043), follow instructions in SI 02005.050 to determine SSI eligibility and payment.

c. Funds Received from an Absent Household Member

  • If any portion of funds received from an absent household member is for the SSI recipient's personal use, the amount of cash income diverted to personal use is unearned income to the SSI recipient.

  • If another member of the SSI recipient's household receives funds from the absent household member (See SI 00835.450).

D. Policy - SSI Recipient Has an Agent

1. General Income Counting Rules

Treat monies received by an agent acting on behalf of an SSI recipient as if the recipient received the monies directly. These monies are charged as income to the recipient when received by the agent, following the income-counting rules in SI 00810.010.

2. Misuse of Benefits by the Agent

If an SSI recipient's agent has been charged with misuse of funds and:

  • restitution has not been made, the amount of funds misused by the agent is not charged as income to the SSI recipient.

  • restitution is made by SSA or the agent directly to the SSI recipient, the amount restored is evaluated using regular income rules in SI 00810.010 in the month restitution is received.

E. Procedure

1. General

  • The file must clearly show the relationship between an SSI recipient and another individual when an agency relationship exists. If the agent is chosen by a court or governmental agency, record any documents verifying the appointment (e.g., guardianship order) on the EVID screen (See GN 00301.288). If no document exists, contact the source of the appointment and record the information in the file (e.g., Report of Contact or EVID page).

  • The file must reflect why income was or was not charged to the SSI recipient, when financial transactions involving agents take place.

2. Fees Received by an Agent

Verify fees, commissions, or contributions provided to an SSI recipient for their services rendered as an agent using the guidelines in SI 00830.005. (See SI 00820.100 if there is an employer-employee relationship.)

3. Misuse of Benefits

  • Develop misuse as required by GN 00604.020 and document the file according to guidelines in GN 00604.030.

  • Adjust the SSI recipient's record, whose benefits were misused, by removing the misused benefits from the income posted to the SSI record.

  • Adjust the agent’s record, if the agent is an SSI recipient, to post unearned income equal to the amount of the misused benefits in the month(s) the agent received the misused benefits.

  • If SSA or the agent makes restitution for the misused benefits to the SSI recipient, charge the SSI recipient with unearned income in the month they receive the restitution payment.

  • If the agent is an SSI recipient and makes restitution for benefits they misused, adjust their record to remove the unearned income postings made for the misused benefits that have been restored.


The rules of administrative finality must be followed when adjustments are made to the records of SSI recipients (See SI 04070.010).

4. Receipt of Funds from an Absent Household Member

  • Record the SSI recipient's allegation regarding the use of an absent household member's funds using the Person Statement page, an SSA-795 or in the Remarks section of an SSA-8000 BK or SSA-8203-F6.

  • If evidence is presented which rebuts the presumption that the SSI recipient is acting as an agent (See SI 00810.120C.5.), record the evidence on the EVID or Report of Contact page or keep a copy of the evidence in file.

F. Examples

1. SSI Recipient Acting as Agent

An SSI recipient is representative payee for their ineligible spouse who receives title II benefits of $450/month (the couple lives in the same household). The SSI recipient is not charged with $450/month unearned income because of receipt of the spouse's title II benefit as an agent. However, $450/month is used in the spouse-to-spouse deeming computation to determine the amount of the SSI recipient's deemed income.

2. State Acting as Agent for SSI Recipient and Receiving Funds on Its Own Behalf

Allen Jackson, an aged SSI recipient, is placed by the State of Maryland with a provider who is paid by the State. (This is not a foster care situation.) The State acts as representative payee for Mr. Jackson and receives $40/month from Mr. Jackson's relatives as reimbursement for paying the provider. The $40 is not income to Mr. Jackson because the State receives the money on its own behalf.

3. Agent Uses Money for Self and on Another's Behalf

An SSI recipient is legal guardian for an elderly sister. A family friend gives the SSI recipient $120 and instructs that $40 of it is for the sister. The SSI recipient keeps $80 and uses the rest to buy clothing for the recipient's sister. $80 represents unearned income to the SSI recipient in the form of a gift. The $40 which was paid on behalf of the sister is not income to the SSI recipient because they used this money in their capacity as an agent.

4. Monies from an Absent Household Member Used to Maintain Home and for Personal Use

An SSI recipient rents an apartment with a cousin who goes into the hospital for an extended stay. The recipient reports to the field office (FO) that the cousin sent $200 to help with the rent and utility bills. Of the $200, the recipient needed only $175 for the household bills and used the remaining $25 to buy a birthday present for a friend. Because the recipient was acting as an agent for a cousin, the FO charges the recipient only $25 in income since the recipient made personal use of that portion of the $200. The FO also must determine whether recipient received ISM (according to the rules in SI 00835.350) because of the cousin's payment of $175 toward the household bills.

5. SSI Recipient's Spouse Goes into a Medicaid Facility

An SSI recipient reports to the FO that their spouse is now in a Medicaid facility (they were previously living together). The recipient also reports receiving, from the State Medicaid agency, $100/month from the spouse's funds. The FO calls the State agency and verifies that the State has assigned $100/month of the spouse's income to the recipient. Because the recipient has $100/month available to the recipient (assigned by the State), the FO charges the recipient with $100/month in income.

G. References

GN 00602.001, Use of Benefits

GN 00604.060, Restitution of Misused Benefits

GN 00604.065, Misuse by Organizational or Volume Individual Payees

GN 00604.070, Misuse by Individual Payees Serving Fewer than 14

GN 02405.100, How to Process Unendorsed Title XVI Returned Checks

SI 04070.010, Title XVI Administrative Finality – General Reopening Policies

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SI 00810.120 - Income Determinations Involving Agents - 08/01/2023
Batch run: 08/01/2023