If you’re responsible for your loved one’s finances and she receives Social Security benefits, you must apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to become a Social Security Representative Payee (SSRP). An SSRP is a person or organization the SSA appoints to receive Social Security benefits on the recipient’s behalf when the recipient is no longer capable of managing her finances. A POA, guardian, or conservator is not automatically an SSRP.

You must apply to the SSA and be appointed by the agency as SSRP. You apply when you take over management of your loved one’s finances because she’s no longer able to handle them herself. The application process includes completing form SSA-11 and providing proof of your identity in person at a local Social Security office. You can’t do this online or by telephone. In fact, you can’t even download SSA-11. A Social Security employee must complete the form at the office. Yep, you’ll be taking time off from work to get this done.

As SSRP, you are legally responsible for using your loved one’s Social Security benefits to pay for her current and foreseeable needs and for saving any benefits not necessary to meet her current needs. Once a year, the SSA will send you a Representative Payee Report to complete. The report is an accounting of how you used or saved your loved one’s Social Security benefits. To help you prepare the report, the agency provides a downloadable Income and Expenses Worksheet on its website. The worksheet is also in the booklet, A Guide for Representative Payees, also available on the SSA’s website. The booklet and worksheet explain how to keep records throughout the year.