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FAQs About Advance Designation For Social Security Disability Benefits


If you are applying for or currently receive benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you certainly understand the basics. Individuals who qualify will receive financial benefits on a monthly basis, which are intended to assist with medical care and living expenses. These amounts are directly deposited into the account you designate or onto a Direct Express EBT card, though some recipients receive a paper check.

However, even once you are approved, you should always keep an eye on the future. There may come a time when you need assistance in dealing with SSA, so it is important to be aware of how you can empower another individual to do so. You should also understand the advantages of naming that person in advance, before medical issues would prevent you from making such a decision. Your Maryland Social Security disability attorney can explain advance designation of representative payees in more detail, but some answers to common questions provide useful information.

What is a representative payee? In general, recipients of SSDI/SSI benefits have the right to receive, spend, and manage their benefits themselves. A representative payee may be necessary where the recipient lacks the physical or mental ability to manage these amounts responsibly. SSA will appoint a person or organization for such purposes when it determines that doing so is in the best interests of the recipient.

Why would I use an advance designation of representative payee? Instead of waiting until the point where you cannot manage benefits, a relatively new law allows you to name someone now. The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 enables you to make an advance designation of up to three representative payees. Rather than SSA making the decision, you have control over who you choose to deal with SSDI/SSI benefits.

Am I eligible to designate a representative payee? A claimant or recipient of SSDI/SSI benefits may NOT be able to take advantage of this process if incapacitated. In other words, you do not have the legal capability to designate a representative payee if you suffer from a medical condition that affects mental, cognitive, and related abilities.

What does an advance designation NOT do? Designating a representative payee is sometimes confused with appointing someone under a power of attorney or health care advance directive. There is some overlap with estate planning documents perhaps, but these are very different arrangements. The agent in your advance directive or health care power of attorney has more extensive decision-making authority, including dealing with doctors and deciding medical treatment. The representative payee is limited to managing only the funds you receive through SSDI/SSI.

Get in Touch with Our Maryland SSDI/SSI Lawyers Right Away 

To learn more about the job of a representative payee and how to make an advance designation through SSA, please contact the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC. We can schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your situation at our offices in Glen Burnie, Owings Mills, Ellicott City, or Annapolis, MD.

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