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My niece has lived with me since the death of her mother six years ago. Her father has kept her social security check the entir

Hixson, TN |

time. He says we cannot report him since the house we live in is in need of repair - from damages caused by him and his 3 other children when they lived there - and we could not pass a social security inspection. Is this true? The house is not near being condemned but does need cosmetic work. Is he right or can I try to fight him so my niece can receive her social security check. She is 16 and I do have guardianship for her. Can she collect back pay for the six years he kept her checks?

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Attorney answers 1


He is full of it, call his bluff. Social Security does not do home inspections - that would be the child welfare office of your state. If he files a false claim of neglect he will be even in more trouble.

Report Payee Fraud to SSA. You can even do it online at:


If you feel the Representative Payee has in some fashion misused the benefits being issued for the beneficiary, contact the OIG Fraud Hotline.

You should provide as much identifying information as possible regarding the suspect. Such information should include:

Name of the Representative Payee and the beneficiary
Social Security Number of the Representative Payee and the beneficiary
Date of birth of the Representative Payee and the beneficiary
Details regarding the allegation, such as when it happened, how the abuse was committed, and where the abuse took place.

Yes, you can change your payee if you wish. 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 person you choose to replace your present payee must provide SSA with a letter indicating that he/she is willing to serve as your payee and must provide SSA with proof of his/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.

You could become payee for your niece. If one is a court appointed legal guardian for a beneficiary, a reasonable part of the beneficiary's funds may be used for customary guardianship fees, provided the guardianship appears to be in the beneficiary's best interest. These fees must be authorized and monitored by the court.

A payee acts on behalf of the beneficiary. A payee is responsible for everything related to benefits that a capable beneficiary would do for himself or herself. SSA encourages payees to go beyond just managing finances and to be actively involved in the beneficiary’s life. The following lists the required duties of a payee.
Required Duties:

Determine the beneficiary’s needs and use his or her payments to meet those needs;
Save any money left after meeting the beneficiary’s current needs in an interest bearing account or savings bonds for the beneficiary's future needs;
Report any changes or events which could affect the beneficiary’s eligibility for benefits or payment amount;
Keep records of all payments received and how they are spent and/or saved;
Provide benefit information to social service agencies or medical facilities that serve the beneficiary;
Help the beneficiary get medical treatment when necessary;
Notify SSA of any changes in your (the payee's) circumstances that would affect your performance or continuing as payee;
Complete written reports accounting for the use of funds; and
Return any payments to which the beneficiary is not entitled to SSA.

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.

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