Welcome news for disabled individuals, providing critical protection of their Social Security benefits as well as much needed reforms to the representative payee program.
H.R. 4547: Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018
On April 13, 2018, H.R. 4547: Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 was signed into law after being unanimously approved by Congress. The bill was sponsored by U.S. Representative Sam Johnson of Texas who said, “This new law is great news for the millions of Social Security beneficiaries who rely on a representative payee to help them manage their benefits. Not only will it provide much-needed accountability for the representative payee program, but it also puts measures into place that ensure newly selected representative payees are qualified and trustworthy.”
The Social Security Administration assumes that most disabled adults are capable of handling their own finances and benefits.
However, Congress authorizes the Social Security Administration to appoint a representative payee to manage a disabled individual’s benefits in the event they are not able to do so themselves. The SSA will designate a suitable representative payee to act on behalf of a child or an adult who is declared incompetent by a court.
Approximately 6.2 million people act as representative payees for about 8 million beneficiaries.
A representative payee can be a person or an organization. The Social Security Administration usually considers family members or friends to serve as representative payees first, but if no friends or family members are able to serve, the Social Security Administration will choose a qualified organization. Representative payees are responsible for managing a disabled individual’s Social Security benefits to pay current and future expenses, as well as save any benefit money that is left over. They must keep records of all expenses and payments received and report any changes which might affect a beneficiary’s eligibility or payments.
If you have been denied disability benefits don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
The representative payee program was overhauled in 2004, but since that time government agencies such as the Social Security Advisory Board and groups advocating for the disabled have been concerned about certain issues challenging the program, among them:
- Individuals serving as representative payees who were not qualified.
- Inadequate monitoring of representative payees.
- Important information not being shared between the Social Security Administration and organizations that serve the same population of disabled people, the elderly, and children.
As a result of these oversights, there have been numerous instances of neglect, abuse and misconduct on the part of some representative payees. The new law strengthens the Social Security representative payment program in a number of ways:
- Requires an increased number of representative payee performance reviews and additional types of on-site reviews of representative payees;
- Requires the Protection and Advocacy system of each state to conduct reviews on behalf of the Social Security Administration;
- Eliminates the requirement to file an annual payee accounting form for parents living with their children and for spouses;
- Allows beneficiaries to choose a representative payee in advance of needing one;
- Increases information sharing between child welfare and the SSA and adult protection agencies and the SSA;
- Limits overpayment liability for children in the child welfare system; and
- Bars people with certain criminal convictions from acting as representative payees and individuals who have representative payees themselves from serving in that capacity for someone else.
Enactment of H.R. 4547 is welcome news for disabled individuals, providing critical protection of their Social Security benefits as well as much needed reforms to the representative payee program.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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