Skip to content

Republicans Request Information on SSA’s Representative Payee Program

November 21, 2011

Washington, DC – Ways and Means Republicans, led by Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX), sent Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro a letter inquiring into the general oversight and effectiveness of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) representative payee program. 

A representative payee is appointed when a Social Security retiree, disability beneficiary or Supplemental Security Income recipient is not capable of managing or directing their benefits, including for children under the age of 15.  There are currently about 5.6 million representative payees, managing nearly $61 billion annually for approximately 7.6 million beneficiaries.  Despite laws and regulations regarding representative payee reporting, oversight of representative payees remains a challenge.  For example, earlier this year, it was reported that a representative payee was collecting the benefits for at least one of four disabled victims who a landlord reportedly found locked in a boiler room.   

In the letter the Members wrote, “With the aging of the general population and resulting increase in the need for representative payees in the future, we would like your help in determining the effectiveness of Social Security’s representative payee program, along with your assessment of those in the local community who serve the payee needs of the aged and disabled, including the courts and volunteer organizations.”
They also requested that GAO provide information on:

  1. The history of the representative payee program;
  2. SSA’s current and future challenges relating to the management of the program;
  3. SSA’s effectiveness in ensuring that the representative payee needs of beneficiaries are being met; and,
  4. Other options for managing the payments of beneficiaries who are unable to do so for themselves.  

The full letter can be read here.