Payees can help you manage your money

Payees can help you manage your money

Here's information for beneficiaries who have payees.


Call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days or call your local Social Security office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on business days. You also can visit us on the Internet at

 Most organizational payees are regulated by Social Security Administration.

Payee Monitoring and Accounting

 Payee Misuse of Benefits

(Table of Contents)

We fully investigate every allegation of payee malfeasance and make a formal determination of whether misuse has occurred. 

Payee misuse occurs when:

  • You use any portion of a beneficiary’s funds for something other than the use and benefit of the beneficiary;
  • An agent of your organization, such as an employee or volunteer, steals beneficiary funds;
  • You charge unauthorized fees and deduct the amount from the beneficiary’s monthly payment;

If you learn that an employee of your organization has misused funds, you must immediately report it to us.  Your organization has a legal obligation to repay all misused funds.  

If your organization is an approved fee for service payee, your organization must forfeit the fees charged for all months in which misuse occurred.  If your organization does not repay the misused funds, including the fees, immediately, the law allows us to collect the misused amount from you.

If  we determine your organization misused funds, we will re-evalulate your suitability to remain payee and may appoint a new payee or make direct payment to the beneficiary. 

If misuse occurred, you must make full restitution of the misused funds.  When you make restitution, or agree to a plan to do so, we may allow you to continue serving as payee if there is good reason to believe that you will use benefits properly in the future.

We refer all determinations of misuse for possible criminal prosecution.  The penalty upon conviction may be a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment up to 10 years, or both.  We may also impose a civil monetary penalty up to $5,000 for each violation and an assessment of not more than twice the amount of the misused benefits.

We monitor your performance as a payee and ensure you are fulfilling your responsibilities by requiring you to complete an annual report and by making periodic, in-person visits to you.

If you are an authorized fee for service (FFS) payee, you must also show us each year that you continue to meet the requirements for charging a fee for your payee services.  For example, you will have to present proof that you are currently bonded and licensed (in states where licensing is available) and that you continue to serve at least five beneficiaries.  (See pages 54-60 for more information on being a FFS payee.)

Annual Reports

Most organizational payees must report to us, in writing, each year by submitting a form SSA-6234, Representative Payee Report, for each beneficiary they serve (See Exhibit 1).  This form asks how you used the beneficiary's payments, how you saved any left-over funds, and whether or not the beneficiary's custody changed. 

We will let you know when it is time for you to report by sending you an SSA-6234, Representative Payee Report to complete.

As an alternative to completing the paper Representative Payee Report, you may be eligible to use our online reporting facility.  To see if you qualify for this method of reporting, you should carefully read the instructions that accompany the SSA-6234, Representative Payee Report you receive in the mail.

Whether you complete the paper form or report online, we will review your responses to determine if you are using benefits properly.

Important: Only certain State mental institutions that serve as payee for large numbers of beneficiaries are exempt from this method of annual reporting.  For these payees, we substitute an intensive, in-person, onsite visit to the institution to evaluate their performance.

Other Visits

In addition to the written reports described above, we routinely visit many organizational payees, including FFS payees.  Before we visit, we will call you to make an appointment.

During our visit, we will:

  • Ask you about how you manage beneficiaries’ funds and what you do to make sure beneficiaries’ needs are met;
  • Review your records to verify the amount of funds you received and how you spent and saved them;
  • Review receipts, cancelled checks and other documentation for purchases you made for beneficiaries; and
  • Ask beneficiaries you serve about their experiences with you.

These visits help us maintain effective lines of communication with you and give you the chance to ask us questions and to ask for help in resolving problems you experience. 

When our review is complete, we will send you a letter documenting our findings.  If we find that you have not followed our rules, the report will tell you about things you must change. 

The report may contain suggestions for ways you can improve your performance. 

If we find that you misused beneficiary funds, we will require repayment and may refer the matter for criminal prosecution.

Notes & Links

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