Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Justice in Aging's June, 2016 issue brief focuses on needed improvements to Social Security's Representative Payee program. How SSA Can Improve the Representative Payee Program to Protect Vulnerable Seniors explains the rep payee program, details steps SSA has taken to improve the program and makes recommendations generally as well as to specific parts of the rep payee program. General recommendations to improve the program overall include
Prepare for the increased need for representative payees by developing methods to recruit and retain eligible representative payees.
Provide more in-depth training, support, and resources for representative payees and field office personnel.
Promote the use of the supported decision making model to ensure that the capability determination process and resulting appointments promote autonomy and financial independence for as long as possible.
Ensure that third party monitoring and oversight of representative payees includes the appropriate level of oversight and protects older adults from financial abuse.
Specific portions of the program that are studied include the capability determination process, monitoring and oversight, actions against a misbehaving rep payee, monitoring of direct deposits, training rep payees and identifying those beneficiaries who need rep payees. The report concludes "[g]iven the history of misuse and lack of oversight within the program, SSA must make necessary reforms to prevent repetition of the often dehumanizing instances of fraud and misuse of funds."