New Representative Payee Rules Proposed

December 12, 2018

SSA has proposed regulations on specific criminalconvictions that would limit a person’s ability to serve as a representative payee. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was publishedon October 11, 2018 at 83 Fed. Reg. 51400, is inresponse to the Strengthening Protections for SocialSecurity Beneficiaries Act of 2018, which becamelaw in April. Section 202 of that law requires SSA toconduct criminal background checks on most people applying to become payees, and repeat these checksevery five years.

The law also requires SSA to consider whetherpeople with certain felony convictions can serve as a payee. The proposed regulations list thepreclusive felony convictions as human trafficking,false imprisonment, kidnapping, rape and sexualassault, first-degree homicide, robbery, fraud toobtain access to government assistance, fraud by scheme, theft of government funds or property, abuse or neglect, forgery, identity theft, or attempt or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses.

Under the proposed rule, most people with such convictions will not be able to serve as payees. But if the person falls into one of the below categories, then SSA will not consider the conviction as an absolute bar and instead will weigh the conviction along with other factors to determine which person would best serve the beneficiary as a payee:

• The custodial parent of the minor child beneficiary the representative payee applicant seeks to serve;

• The custodial parent of the disabled beneficiary the representative payee applicant seeks to serve if the beneficiary’s disability began before the beneficiary attained age 22;

• The custodial spouse, custodial grandparent of a minor child, or custodial court-appointed legal guardian of the beneficiary the representative payee applicant seeks to serve;

• The parent who was previously the representative payee for his or her minor child who since turned age 18 and continued to be eligible for benefits;

• A representative payee applicant who received a Presidential or gubernatorial pardon for the conviction.

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