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Study reveals SSDI beneficiaries' representative payee needs

Tennesseans who seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits do so because they have medical needs that prevent them from working. Their medical limitations may vary widely, and may be due to any number of circumstances, but all applicants seek SSDI benefits due to need.

Interestingly, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, SSDI beneficiaries may have other needs as well that are not being met fully. Specifically, according to the report, many recipients of SSD benefits need the help of representative payees to handle the money they receive from the SSA, but all too often they do not receive this assistance.

Representative payees are third parties who receive beneficiaries' SSDI benefits and allocate the money to them. Their services are necessary when recipients are not able to manage their finances on their own. Only 3.5 million of the 16 million adult recipients of SSDI benefits currently have a representative payee. Interestingly, some persons who receive both SSI and SSDI benefits have a representative payee for benefits in one of the programs, but not the other. This inconsistency could be problematic for a person who needs the help of a representative payee, but is only receiving the help in connection with one type of benefits.

According to the study, a standardized process for evaluating a person's need for a representative payee does not exist. Furthermore, it indicates the SSA does not currently have an effective process for identifying persons who might not be able to manage their financial needs in the future. The researchers who conducted the study encourage the introduction of new policies that might both help identify those beneficiaries who currently need representative payees, as well as those persons who may need assistance in the future.

Source:, "Social Security Urged To Revamp Representative Payee Approach," Shaun Heasley, March 22, 2016

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