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What are the statute of limitations in Florida on suing a representative payee for fraud and withholding of funds for food?

Sebring, FL |

My representative payee has been extremely lax and forgetful in providing me funds from my SSDI account for groceries. Last night at the supermarket my debit card was declined for insufficient funds because he forgot to upload enough money on it despite my begging him several times to do so. This has been going on for the past several months. Also, in 12/2010, he never told me that my SSDI backpay had arrived and wrote out checks to himself and his wife totalling approximately $7,500. He's my landlord and I'm afraid to complain for fear he may retaliate. I live in Florida; do I have a case for fraud against him or is it too late to sue?

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Attorney answers 3


If you feel the Representative Payee has in some fashion misused the benefits being issued for you, the beneficiary, contact the OIG Fraud Hotline which is linked below this answer.

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

Sometimes, people who receive Social Security Benefits are not able to handle their own financial affairs. In those cases, and after a careful investigation, SSA appoints a relative, friend, or another individual or organization to handle their Social Security matters.

When reporting allegations of Representative Payee misuse, there are several things that must be considered before reporting this information.

Some of the duties of a Representative Payee include:

- Determining the beneficiary’s total needs and using the benefits received in the best interests of the beneficiary
- Maintaining a continuing awareness of the beneficiary’s needs and condition, if the beneficiary does not live with the Representative Payee, by contact such as visiting the beneficiary and consultations with custodians
- Applying the benefit payments only for the beneficiary’s use and benefit
- Notifying SSA of any change in his or her circumstances that would affect performance of the payee's responsibilities
- Reporting to SSA any event that will affect the amount of benefits the beneficiary receives and to give SSA written reports accounting for the use of the benefits

A Representative Payee must apply the payments for the use and benefit of the entitled individual. The funds should be spent on the beneficiary’s current and reasonably foreseeable needs. The needs should be immediate and essential. Examples of properly disbursed benefits are:
- Food
- Clothing
- Shelter
- Utilities
- Medical care and insurance
- Dental care
- Personal hygiene
- Education
- Rehabilitation expenses

If there are funds left over once the beneficiary’s current needs are met, the representative payee must save and/or invest the remaining funds in trust for the beneficiary.

What Representative Payees Should NOT Do; Representative Payees cannot:

- Use a beneficiary’s funds for their own personal expenses, or spend funds in a way that would leave the beneficiary without necessary items or services (housing, food and medical care)
- Put a beneficiary’s Social Security or SSI funds in the Representative Payee’s on another person's account
- Keep conserved funds once they are no longer a Representative Payee for the beneficiary
- Charge the beneficiary for services unless authorized by the Social Security Administration to do so

This comment is published by and reflects the personal views of Nick Ortiz, in his individual capacity. It does not necessarily represent the views of his law firm or his clients, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them. The purpose of this comment site is to assist in dissemination of information about disability law, but no representation is made about the accuracy of the information. The information contained in this comment is provided only as general information for education purposes. The tips and suggestions contained in this comment may not be appropriate for your individual case. Please do not accept anything in this comment as legal advice unless and until you have hired me to represent you in your claim for benefits, and I have agreed – in writing – to represent you. By using this website you understand that this information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This comment should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.


Follow Attorney Ortiz's advice.
I don't think you will get a better answer.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


Attorney Ortiz has given a very thorough and helpful answer. You need to report this issue immediately.