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A Representative Payee may be an individual, either family member or close friend of the beneficiary, or it may be an organization such as a non-profit agency or hospital or other medical facility. Facilities are frequently appointed as Representative Payees while the beneficiary is confined in it, especially facilities that treat substance abuse.

Although the choice of who is appointed the Representative Payee of a beneficiary is a decision that Social Security makes, the beneficiary and his/her support team will be requested to give guidance and recommendations.

The main factor in the selection of a Representative Payee is determining what is in the beneficiary's best interest. Using that as a general guideline, Social Security has a list of the different types of payees that determines the order in which they seek a payee. NOTE: This list, which describes the order for appointing a Representative Payee, is only a guideline, and not binding.

Several factors are considered in selecting a Representative Payee:

  • The relationship of the person to the beneficiary;
  • The person's concern for the beneficiary's well-being;
  • The ability of the person to act in the beneficiary's best interest;
  • Whether the potential Payee has custody of the beneficiary; and
  • Whether the potential Payee is in a position to know of and look after the needs of the beneficiary.
Evidence must be presented to Social Security about a Representative Payee before a final selection.