I am going to be moving in to a new apartment in December and wanted to know if my new landlord can be my payee for my Social Security benefits check. I currently live with my uncle who is my payee but I would like to change that. What is the process I'd have to go through?
Social Security Lawyers
No, Social Security does not allow such an arrangement unless the landlord is also your relative or legal guardian. Even if it was allowed, it seems like a bad idea in my opinion - and could cause real problems for you if you and your landlord ever had a disagreement (such as over rent or repairs or whatnot.)
You cannot choose a person who provides a service to you for money (such as your doctor or your landlord) unless that person is a relative or is your legal guardian; a person who has previously misused anyone's Social Security benefits; or a person who has ever been found guilty of a crime against SSA.
The person you choose must provide proof of identity and a Social Security card to SSA. If you are unable to find a payee, SSA will give you a list of agencies that can serve as your payee.
If you decide to change your payee, you should notify SSA as soon as you make the decision. You will need to fill out an application form at your local Social Security office.
The individual you choose to replace your present payee must provide SSA with a letter indicating that she is willing to serve as your payee and must provide SSA with proof of her identity. Once you’ve sent the application form and the new payee has sent the letter to SSA, the change in payee should take effect in about a month. You and your new payee should each receive a written notice of this before any benefits are paid to the new payee.
Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.
Social Security Lawyers
A representative payee for your Social Security check should be someone who shows strong concern for your personal welfare, and who will spend the money for your needs. SSA's preference for representative payees for adults (age 18 +) is:
a legal guardian or close relative with whom the Social Security recipient lives or who shows strong concern for your personal welfare;
a friend living with or showing strong concern for your personal welfare;
a public agency or nonprofit agency or institution where the Social Security recipient lives;
or, other persons.
There are different rules for children under age 18 and for individuals who are disabled and have drug/alcohol addiction.
Social Security regulations generally prohibit appointing a rep. payee who is a creditor, that is, someone who provides you with goods or services for money. But there are exceptions, including for a relative or for a licensed care facility in which you live.
Ordinarily, a landlord would not become a representative payee, because he/she is a creditor without a strong concern for your personal welfare. There's a lot more to being a representative payee than just making sure the rent is paid. And, the representative payee is not supposed to just turn the money over to you, so the landlord shouldn't just pay the rent and give you the rest of the money. The representative payee has to ensure you have not only shelter, but food, adequate clothes, medical care and medication, and other basic needs.
Your uncle could continue to serve as representative payee, even if you move out, if he shows strong concern for your personal welfare and spends the money for you. If that doesn't suit, then here's the process to change a payee: you contact your local Social Security office and explain that you think you need a change of representative payee. They'll discuss who would be suitable and make a decision as to whether a change should be made. If SSA decides to change your representative payee, they'll take an application from the new rep.payee and start paying the checks to the new rep. payee. You don't need an attorney.
This communication offers general information based on the limited facts set out in the question, and does not constitute the giving of legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. For specific legal advice, consult an attorney in your state who is knowledgeable in this area of law.
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Technically, your landlord can be your "Representative Payee". However, I would not recommend such a relationship because it could cause the Rep Payee to put his financial interests above yours. A Rep Payee must act in the best interests of the Social Security beneficiary. What if you are behind on your rent, but also need money for medication? Will your landlord pay himself first out of your monthly check, or will he pay for your medication? There was once a time when claimant's with drinking problems would have their favorite bartender named as their Rep Payee, and they rarely ate properly. Social Security has cracked down on such abuses, and I do not think they would be likely to approve your landlord as a Rep Payee given the possible confilict of interest. Better to find another family member or close friend who is aware of your needs. Good luck!
Any answers to Avvo questions are for general public legal information and do not establish an attorney/client relationship with Troy Rosasco or his law firm. Individuals should always consult their own attorney on the specifics of their individual legal issues.