Does Social Security Recognize Power Of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a written document that authorizes one person to act as another’s agent or attorney.  The Treasury Department does not allow the use of Power of Attorney to negotiate Social Security checks or Supplemental Security Income checks.  The Power of Attorney does not give a person the right to cash another’s person’s Social Security or Supplemental Security Income check.

Sometimes the question of having someone’s Power of Attorney is confused with Social Security’s Representative Payee program.  When beneficiaries of Social Security or Supplemental Security Income cannot handle their own funds or direct someone to handle them on their behalf, Social Security appoints someone else  to handle the Social Security payments.  Having someone’s Power of Attorney is not acceptable in lieu of applying with Social Security to become a representative payee.  Social Security needs to interview anyone who wants to serve as a representative payee.  SSA wants to determine the relationship between the two people, how the prospective payee would stay in contact with the beneficiary and whether or not the payee is acceptable to the beneficiary in addition to other issues.  SSA has to make a decision about the suitability of the person filing to be payee.  SSA explains the beneficiary’s rights, responsibilities and reporting requirements to the payee applicant.  Being a person’s representative payee is a serious responsibility and SSA needs to be certain that the representative payee agrees to perform all the duties required.  So, while a Power of Attorney may be acceptable for other situations, it is not acceptable to do business with Social Security.  If you need to handle someone’s Social Security matters, you need to apply to be their representative payee with the Social Security Administration.