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Johnson, Larson Statement on the Social Security Advisory Board’s New Representative Payee Program Report

January 16, 2018

House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Ranking Member John Larson (D-CT) welcome the release of the Social Security Advisory Board’s (SSAB) new report, Improving Social Security’s Representative Payee Program. The report includes recommendations for addressing the challenges facing the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) representative payee program – a program Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Larson have been working to improve and strengthen with their bipartisan legislation, the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017.

Following the release of the SSAB report, Chairman Johnson said:

“The Social Security Advisory Board’s new report shows why we need to make changes to Social Security’s representative payee program now. The report makes a number of commonsense recommendations to strengthen this program, many of which are included in the legislation I introduced with Ranking Member Larson last year. The report also makes clear that there are things Social Security can – and should – do on its own to ensure the representative payee program is working the way it should.

“We all must continue to work together to make much-needed changes to this important program. The American people want, need, and deserve no less.”

Ranking Member Larson added:

“I want to thank the Social Security Advisory Board for their hard work over the last months looking into the representative payee program, and their comprehensive new report confirming the need for the kinds of improvements included in H.R. 4547. It has been a pleasure working with my friend Chairman Johnson and Social Security advocacy groups on this essential bill. I look forward to enacting this bipartisan legislation so we can better protect the most vulnerable Social Security beneficiaries.”


The SSA’s representative payee program helps approximately 8 million Social Security beneficiaries manage their benefits when they are unable to do so themselves (for example, children, or seniors with dementia). Nonpartisan government watchdogs and stakeholders have raised serious concerns about how the SSA administers the representative payee program. In 2017, the Committee held a two-part hearing series examining this program. Following the hearing series, Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Larson introduced the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017 (H.R. 4547) to improve and strengthen the representative payee program.

The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017:

  • Strengthens oversight by increasing the number of performance reviews of payees, requiring additional types of reviews, and improving the effectiveness of the reviews by requiring the Protection and Advocacy system of each state to conduct the reviews, on behalf of the SSA.
  • Reduces the burden on families by eliminating the requirement to file an annual payee accounting form for parents who live with their children and for spouses.
  • Enhances personal control by allowing beneficiaries to designate their preferred payee in advance of actually needing one; and ensures improved selection of payees by requiring the SSA to assess the appropriateness of the preference list used to select payees.
  • Improves beneficiary protections by increasing information sharing between the SSA and child welfare agencies, and by directing the SSA to study how better to coordinate with Adult Protective Services agencies and with state guardianship courts.
  • Limits overpayment liability for children in the child welfare system.
  • Ensures that no beneficiary has a barred payee by codifying the ban on individuals with certain criminal convictions from serving as payees and prohibiting individuals who have payees from serving as payees for others.

The Social Security Advisory Board is a bipartisan, independent federal government agency established in 1994 to advise the President, the Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters of policy and administration of the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income programs. The Board has seven seats, with three appointed by the President, two by the Senate, and two by the House of Representatives.

CLICK HERE for a fact sheet on the bill.

CLICK HERE to read letters of support for the bill.

CLICK HERE to read about the Committee’s hearing on how the Social Security Administration determines who needs help.

CLICK HERE to read about the Committee’s hearing on how the Social Security Administration determines who provides help.