TN 80 (04-23)

SI 01120.020 Transactions Involving Agents.

A. Introduction

An eligible individual (EI) or deemor may have an agent to act on his/her behalf or may serve as an agent for someone else. When an agency relationship exists, it is important to distinguish an agent's actions on his/her own behalf from those on behalf of the person for whom he/she serves as agent.

B. Definitions

1. Agent

An agent is a person or organization acting on behalf of and/or with the authorization of another person. For SSI purposes, the term applies to anyone acting in a fiduciary capacity, whether formal or informal, and regardless of the applicable title (representative payee,conservator, guardian, etc.).

2. Ward

A ward, as used in this section, is the categorical designation of a party for whom an agent has authority to act. This is not necessarily a “ward” in the legal sense.

C. Operating Policies — Agent Holds Assets

1. Actions By Agent

For purposes of this section, an action by someone in his/her capacity as an agent is equivalent to an action by the ward for whom he/she acts. For example, RSI funds held by a representative payee for a title II beneficiary are the same as funds held by the beneficiary himself.

2. Status of Assets Held For Ward

Unless there is a legal restriction on the agent's access to assets held for a ward or against their use for the ward's support and maintenance, the assets are the ward's resources. They are not the agent's resources since the agent has no ownership interest in them and often is not legally free to use them for his/her own support and maintenance.

3. Property Title Must Show Ownership

An agent holding property of any kind for a ward must keep it in a form that clearly shows ownership by the ward.

D. Operating Policies — Improperly Titled Financial Account

The most common type of improperly titled account is the savings account designated as held “in trust for” a ward. This form of holding is not a formal trust (SI 01120.200) and is misleading as to ownership of the funds. If State law does not recognize the funds as the ward's property, see E.3. below.

1. Singly Owned Account; EI/Deemor is Ward

  1. a. 

    Agent Agrees Funds Belong to Ward -

    If there is an agency relationship so that deposits to the account are income to the ward, not the agent

    (SI 00810.120): we

    • assume the funds are the ward's property; and

    • request that the agent change the account designation per GN 00603.010.

  2. b. 

    Agent Does Not Agree Funds Belong to Ward - If the agent does not agree that the funds belong to the ward and refuses to correct the account title,we do not treat the funds as the ward's resources. See E.4. if the agent is a representative payee. See E.3.b. if the agent is not a representative payee.

2. Singly Owned Account; EI/Deemor is Agent

Although deposits to the account are not the agent's income per SI 00810.120C.2.b.,we treat the account as the agent's resource. The account is the resource of the person shown as owner on the account title.

3. Jointly Owned Account

Regardless of whether the EI/deemor is ward or agent, an agent can rebut ownership of the funds and establish that they are the ward's property (SI 01140.205).

E. Development and Documentation

1. Verify Agency Relationship

Verify any allegation of an agency relationship per SI 00810.120E.

2. Determine Resources

Document your decisions concerning the form and value of resources belonging to the EI/deemor. Follow the guidelines in C. and D. above, as well as in sections dealing with the specific type of property involved.

3. Improperly Titled Financial Account; EI/Deemor Has Agent

  1. a. 

    Agent Acknowledges Funds as Ward's

    • Document the file with the agent's signed statement over the penalty clause as to the ward's ownership.

    • Ask the agent to have the account retitled per GN 00603.010.

    • Treat the funds as the ward's property.

  2. b. 

    Agent Is Not Representative Payee and Does Not Acknowledge Funds as Ward's

    If an agent (other than a representative payee) has set up an account incorrectly, will not change the account designation, and will not acknowledge the funds as the ward's:

    • document the file with an RC showing the agent's refusal;

    • do not treat the funds as the ward's property; and

    • see SI 00810.120E. for the income rules that apply when the EI/ deemor has an agent.

4. Representative Payee is Agent Who Does Not Acknowledge Funds As Ward's

  1. a. 

    If the conserved funds are SSI or RSDI funds and the representative payee will not change the account designation and acknowledge the ward's ownership of the funds:

    • develop for payee suitability per GN 00504.110; and

    • do not treat the funds as the EI's or deemor's property during suitability development.

  2. b. 

    Situation Changes - Consider the funds the ward's property the month following the month in which:

    • the representative payee, during suitability development,designates the funds properly; or

    • a new representative payee establishes the account correctly.

NOTE:  Do not consider any conserved SSI or RSDI funds as the EI's or deemor's income in the month the account is redesignated

(SI 01120.022.B.2).

F. Related Policies

1. Misuse of Funds By Representative Payee Who Is An EI Or Deemor

See SI 00810.120 D.4. and GN 00604.010 concerning misused funds as income to the agent. If the agent retains the misused funds, consider them his/her resources effective with the month following the month the funds are counted as income.

2. Representative Payee

SSA selects representative payees for recipients who are unable to manage their own funds. Representative payees have financial jurisdiction only over financial transactions involving SSI/RSDI benefits. See GN 00502.001.

3. Transfer of Assets Penalty

If, prior to July 1, 1988, an EI who is an agent, removes his/her name as owner of an improperly titled singly held account,the transfer of assets penalty may apply (SI 01150.110).

4. Agents and Income Determinations

For the effect on income determinations of fees paid to an agent, misuse of funds, and incorrectly titled accounts,see SI 00810.120.


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SI 01120.020 - Transactions Involving Agents. - 04/03/2023
Batch run: 04/03/2023