TYPES OF ASSISTANCE
Education & Other Resources
We provide various types of assistance and other useful resources to assist individuals and families seeking help. We meet regularly with individuals to provide complimentary financial assistance, including:
- Explaining Social Security, SSI, VA and other payments
- Establishing a budget, discussing it with the individual, and involving him or her as much as possible in financial decisions;
- Helping find other benefits and services they may need such as supplemental nutrition assistance, housing subsidies, etc.;
- Helping obtain medical treatment and mental health assistance when needed;
- Helping with Medicare, Medicaid, and prescription drug expenses;
- Helping fill out applications for needed services;
- Negotiating with landlords and others to get the best possible deals;
- Helping file income tax returns;
- Making Social Security VA and other recipients aware of large retroactive payments;
- Discussing ways that our agency, as well as other organizations and social service agencies, can help individuals live better and fuller lives;
- Directing or referring to other organizations and social service agencies that are outside of the financial arena that can provide needed help.
Provide basic financial education and financial education materials to financially undereducated and/or financially challenged individuals. Examples of current materials used are:
- Financially Frozen©: The course covers budgeting, credit and credit scores, managing a checking account, debt, contracts, insurance, scams, consumer laws and more and a friendly, easy to understand manor.
- Credit When Credit Is Due©: a complete twelve-lesson course in both book and online form in which individuals can learn how to manage their personal finances from their own home or through free seminars. The course covers important financial lessons and includes worksheets and forms;
- Money in Motion©: a short financial education course designed to provide simple yet practical advice on how to master basic financial skills;
- Money Smart: The FDIC's Money Smart financial education program can help people of all ages enhance their financial skills and create positive banking relationships by helping build financial knowledge, develop financial confidence, and use banking services effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions
A representative payee is a person or organization that receives your Social Security or SSI disability benefits on your behalf. A representative payee must use your payments for your support and care only. Your representative payee may use the money to pay bills, buy food and clothing, save for your future, pay for your entertainment, or in any other manner that is in your best interest and for your benefit.
The SSA decided you needed a representative payee because it believed you were unable to successfully manage your benefits. This decision is usually based on the evidence presented in your case. Here are some examples:
The claimant was awarded benefits because of severe bipolar disorder. The claimant’s psychiatric record contained evidence that her disorder frequently caused her to spend excessive amounts of money on alcohol, drugs, and gambling. The claimant also testified to this at her hearing. Based on these factors, the SSA concluded that it was in the claimant’s best interest to have her benefits managed by a representative payee.
The claimant was awarded benefits based on mental retardation. The claimant was only minimally educated and could not perform basic math functions or read effectively. He had never had a checking account; accordingly, the SSA decided that the claimant was unable to handle his financial affairs and assigned him a representative payee.
The claimant was awarded benefits because of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Although she could provide basic self-care, the claimant frequently suffered bouts of confusion and experienced an increase in difficulty organizing and paying her bills on time. The claimant’s judgment was also affected, and she frequently misused money and failed to pay for basic needs. Because of these symptoms, the SSA determined it was in her best interest to assign the claimant a representative payee.
When deciding on whom to appoint as your representative payee, the SSA will look first at whether you live with someone who helps takes care of you. If you do not, the SSA may choose a family member, friend, legal guardian, or lawyer. The goal of the SSA is to select someone who knows you well, sees you frequently, and is familiar with your needs and wants.
If none of these options are available, the SSA may select an organization that specializes in handling Social Security benefits for people. Or, if you live in a nursing home, the facility may receive the benefits to pay for your care.
You need to keep your representative payee apprised of any major life changes that may affect your eligibility for benefits. Here are some examples: starting or stopping a job, moving, getting married, getting money from other sources (i.e., inheritance), leaving the country, being incarcerated, applying for welfare or other state or federal benefits, and no longer being disabled. If you fail to tell your representative payee about any of these factors, you may get more money than you are eligible for. If this happens, you may be required to repay these funds (called overpayments).
Once you have received written notice from the SSA that it has assigned you a representative payee, you have 60 days to appeal the decision in writing. If you don’t like the representative payee that was chosen for you, you must appeal the choice in this time frame as well. Make sure you explain in detail why you disagree with the decision.
If you decide that you want to change the representative payee who has been handling your money, you should first tell your payee of your decision. After you have advised your current payee, the new person you have selected must contact your local SSA or VA office and they can assist you with the necessary paperwork.
To get control of your benefits back, you must prove to the SSA or VA that you are mentally and physically capable of handling your own money. Here are two examples of how you can show this:
1) Provide a letter from your treating physician or psychiatrist that states he or she believes you can take care of your finances,
2) Provide a certified copy of a court order that states the court believes you are able to take care of your own finances.
Keep in mind that if your condition has improved so much that you can now care for your personal affairs, the SSA or VA may use this as evidence that you are no longer disabled, which could result in a loss of your disability benefits.