The question of who can receive your Social Security disability benefits has two answers. The first relates to using your Social Security eligibility to assist a family member who lacks eligibility. The second involves having a trusted individual or organization take delivery of and manage benefit payments on your behalf. In either scenario, seeking advice and assistance from a disability lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, can make setting up the arrangement easier.
Applying Your SSDI and SSI Eligibility to a Family Member
When a spouse or child will qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplement Security Income but has not paid into the federal safety net program, a husband, wife, father, or mother who does have Social Security eligibility can apply to receive benefits in the name of the disabled individual. That individual must meet all the criteria for federal disability and need, so the health and financial information reviewed is theirs.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists the following people as potentially being able to receive SSDI and SSI benefits through a family member:
- A spouse who is between the ages of 62 and 65
- A spouse who is caring for the Social Security-eligible person’s child who is younger than 16 years old or disabled
- A divorced spouse who spent at least 10 years married to the eligible person, has not remarried, and is between the ages of 62 and 65
- An unmarried biological or adopted child of the eligible person if the child is younger than 19 and still in high school
- A stepchild or grandchild of the eligible person if that person is a primary caregiver for the child
- An unmarried adult child who becomes permanently disabled between the ages of 18 and 22
Authorizing Someone Else to Accept Your Benefit Payments
Recognizing that an SSDI or SSI recipient may be too young, too old, or too physically or mentally incapacitated to cash checks and manage bank accounts, the SSA allows individuals and organizations to act as “representative payees” for beneficiaries.
A representative payee can be
- A family member
- A trusted friend
- A caregiver
- A nursing home or other long-term health care facility
- A social services agency
- A government-appointed caseworker
Note that holding a power of attorney for financial matters does not qualify someone to serve as a representative payee. A separate application to serve in this capacity must be accepted by the SSA for each SSDI or SSI beneficiary. Fully completing that application process usually requires going to a local Social Security office to prove one’s identity and answer a set of questions. A disability lawyer can assist with the paperwork and help prepare a first-time applicant for the in-person part of the application process.
A representative payee must use all the SSDI or SSI money to provide for the disabled person’s care and well-being. As the SSA explains on its website,
First, you must take care of the beneficiary’s day-to-day needs for food and shelter. Then, you must use the money for the beneficiary’s medical and dental care that’s not covered by health insurance. You can also pay for the beneficiary’s personal needs, such as clothing and recreation. You must save any money left after you pay for the beneficiary’s needs, preferably in an interest-bearing account or U.S. Savings Bonds.
The agency requires each representative payee to keep records of disability checks received and money spent on behalf of the disabled person. When such records are not made available for review upon request, or when the numbers indicate that the representative payee is misusing funds, criminal penalties may apply.
You can learn more about assigning Social Security disability benefits and serving as a representative payee for a SSDI or SSI recipient by arranging a free consultation with a Columbus disability lawyer at Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman.