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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    7

    Default Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    I recieve a monthly amount of money from SSI because of emotional/behavioral disorders. I am diagnosed with Bipolar, ADHD, and Asperger's Syndrome. I am able to live independently, though as of right now, I have a payee that my monthly check goes to, who doles it out to me based on my needs. Whether or not I'm legally not allowed to be my own payee, I don't know. I don't think I am, but I'm not 100% sure.

    My payee is my grandmother. She is the only person in my family willing to be my payee. The only other option in terms of payees is The Organizers, the only organization that is legally allowed to handle other people's SSI for them, at least as far as I know. I used them at one point, and they were absolutely terrible- they sent me a $30 gift card for groceries that only had, like, 15 dollars and something cents on it, though they spent $30 of my money to pay for it, they refused to reimburse me, they refused at one point to pay my half of the rent and legally threatened the landlady when she tried to ask for it, and when we finally decided to switch my payee to my grandmother and asked for an account of their handling of my money, they refused that point-blank as well. I don't think this was legal either, but all this happened in August of 2010, so I'm not sure if that is still in the range of the statue of limitations still or not.

    But my main problem is, my grandmother always has the last word on how I recieve my money. I know that's what a payee is supposed to do, but here's an example of my problem with this:
    She sends me my food money in the form of an Albertson's gift card, though snail mail. I want to spend it somewhere cheaper, such as Wal-mart's supercenter or the 99 cent store. I also want to be able to be more flexible in where I shop for groceries, in case of a certain deal going on in whatever store there happens to be one. So I asked her to deposit the money in my bank account, which is where she deposits my personal money each week. I didn't even ask her for an increase in my weekly amount for food, just a different form of giving it to me. She also spends my money on stamps to send the gift cards to me, though this isn't that big of a deal to me. But every attempt at negotiating things like this with her is a major struggle, and she hints regularly that if I don't do it her way, she'll just make me go back to the Organizers, which I already explained why I don't want that to happen.

    I know for a fact she isn't cheating me out of anything, because she regularly goes over reciepts and her bank statements (of the account that deposits my monthly check to her) with me, proving how she spent each withdrawal. I don't think she would actually make me go back to the Organizers, but in case I'm wrong about that, how can I become my own payee?

    My psychologist has said that she refuses to recommend that for me until she gets 6 months more of data/notes/etc. on me (and even then she might still refuse), and I know my grandmother, and probably the rest of the family as well, would protest against it. I do not have any medical or psychological reason for not being my own payee (I'm not an addict of alcohol or any other illegal substance, and I do not have a medical reason that would prevent me from it, either). I admit that I have trouble managing my money sometimes, but it's something I can overcome if given the chance.

    Is there any way I can become my own payee without the reecommendation of a professional or family member? Is it possible to become my own payee on a trial basis if they need to see proof that I can handle it? How can I legally fight against my grandmother's decisions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,045

    Default Re: Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    So what is wrong with waiting six months to prove to your psychologist that you can manage money?

    If you can't convince a treating doctor that you can manage money, someone who spends hours with you, talking about your day to day life, or your family who you have alienated with your behavior, you sure won't be able to convince the Social Security Administration.

    Your city may only have one payee agency so you may be limited in your choices. Your local office can provide you with a list of other payee agencies, if any, in your geographic area. However, all payee agencies are in business and are authorized to charge a fee for money management.

    Six months is not that long to wait. No one wants you to fail at managing money because it could lead to homelessness and hunger. Use this six months to show you can manage the money you do have control over. Sounds like grandma is concerned that you won't spend all your cash on food, if given the chance. She must have a reason for thinking this.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    @Janke:Nothing is wrong with waiting 6 months per se; it's just that I don't want to wait 6 months for something that might still be denied to me even if I do. My psychologist does NOT spend hours with me; I can only see her once a month because of the number of clients she has, and I can only see her a hour and a half tops each time. So in 6 months time, I will have only have spent 9 hours tops with her. How will she know whether I can manage my money by spending only 9 hours with me? She can't, and I'm certain she will use that at the end of the 6 months.

    Next: I have NOT "alienated my family with my behavior". I'm invited to all family functions, activities, etc., and even when there is NOT a planned family function, I visit each of my family members on a regular basis. Most of them just have their own finances to manage that takes up enough time without my finances on top of that. I don't see how you can accuse me of alienating anyone without even knowing me.

    Also: I never complained about the Organizer's fee; actually I wouldn't mind the fee if they did their jobs right. Like I had already said, this is what I had a problem with:
    Quote Quoting Rebma90
    they sent me a $30 gift card for groceries that only had, like, 15 dollars and something cents on it, though they spent $30 of my money to pay for it, they refused to reimburse me, they refused at one point to pay my half of the rent and legally threatened the landlady when she tried to ask for it, and when we finally decided to switch my payee to my grandmother and asked for an account of their handling of my money, they refused that point-blank as well.
    I asked for legal advice, not life advice. I wonder how you would like it if you had to ask someone else for permission before spending a dime on anything as an independent adult. I'm sorry if I sound rude, but a lot of what you was rude as well, especially the comment about alienating my family with my behavior. You don't even know me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
    Posts
    35,894

    Default Re: Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    Amber, if you were an independent adult, you wouldn't have a representative payee.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    @Dogmatique: Well, I live and transport myself where I need to go independently. I attend college, and while I don't currently have a job, I'm doing everything in my power to change that. However, the current state of the economy and my lack of experience (I'm 21 years old) make it difficult, not to mention my academic schedule. Still, I regularly fill out applications both in-store and online for multiple part-time jobs. I don't know how more independent I can be, except for financially, which I am trying to work on, as you can see.

    The reason I have an representative payee is because when I turned 18, I was still living with my mother, who was already receiving my SSI for me while I was still a minor. I wasn't aware that it was even possible for me to become my own payee. I had no information regarding my SSI and the options that go along with it until I moved out of my mom's place 6 months later, and by then, another payee (The Organizer's) had already been chosen for me.

    I was under the impression that this was a forum for people to seek out legal advice. Was I wrong?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,045

    Default Re: Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    I guessed incorrectly that you alienated your family since you stated that no one else was willing to be your payee. Sorry that I made an incorrect assumption. That was wrong.

    Part of the finding that you are disabled is that you have some problems managing money. There must have been some medical evidence that showed that. It's just that you can't pick and choose the medical evidence that you want to be used to determine your eligibility. SSA is not supposed to ignore those issues. The same evidence that was used to approve your claim is also the basis for the decision that you need a payee. Since you were receiving SSI as a child and were approved as an adult, it must mean that you have a severe (not mild) mental disorder.

    Contact your local office to see if there are other payee organizations who can manage your funds while you work with your treating psychologist to demonstrate that you can manage money.

    Here is a link to the information on needing a representative payee:
    https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502000

    New medical evidence generally trumps old medical evidence.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    Janke: It's all right. But I don't think I have a severe mental disorder. Like I said, I'm diagnosed with Bipolar, ADHD, and Asperger's Syndrome. Those are emotional/behavioral disorders, not mental or intellectual, except for Asperger's, which is on the high-functioning (or mild) side of the Autism Spectrum. But although I'm diagnosed with it, even the majority of my doctor's have stated that I only have certain components of it.

    Also, the reason I had a payee to begin with at the age of 18 is because I lived with my mother, who couldn't afford the rent and other bills without it. Since I lived with her, it was determined financially necessary for her to continue being my payee until 6 months later, when I moved out, and she moved into's my unncle's house, because he needed help caring for his youngest child. Since she works nights, she agreed to it. The Organizer's were set up to be my payee then. I wasn't made aware of any of this until after the fact.

    I've met several SSI recepients who are their own payee who blow it all on booze and drugs, and they have been like that for years. I don't have a history of doing that stuff. SSA is not supposed to ignore those issues either, but they do. If I can't be my own payee, I would at least like the final say in how I recieve my money for groceries and etc.

    One part of my disability is that I get easily frustrated when I am not allowed to be independent. I feel smothered, and since I'm 21 years old, I think it's necessary for me to be financially independent. How am I supposed to learn how to manage my money if I'm legally not allowed to? There are a lot of people out there who are horrible at manging their money, but they conquer that by making up for it in another way.

    For example, a woman with credit problems might conquer that by cancelling her credit cards and cutting them up so she cannot use them again, and switch to debit only, or personal checks. That way, whatever she might owe her credit card company can be paid off more easily, because she's not adding more debt to it. There are several more ways to conquer this problem, and several other problems that can be conquered.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,045

    Default Re: Rights of Recipient vs. Representative Payee

    I don't think you'll have a problem convincing your treating psychologist that you can be your own payee over her time schedule.

    And SSA must think you have a severe mental problem otherwise you would not be receiving any SSI benefits. And that must have been decided when you turned 18 by the medical evidence that allowed you to stay entitled. SSA did not keep your mother as your payee because she had bills to pay.

    I do think you should spend some time reading my links about work incentives, including the Ticket to Work and Plan for Achieving Self Support and spend a large part of this year making a long term plan (including a backup plan or two) for your entry into the work force.

    And, you won't like to hear this, but it is pretty normal for all 21 years olds (disabled or not) to want to feel independent, but it is a process that doesn't happen overnight. The law may consider you an adult at age 18, but it still takes time to make mature adult decisions. For all 18 years olds.

    You can apply to be your own payee tomorrow, but SSA is going to ask for medical evidence.

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