The Representative Payee Process with SSA

sscardIn May, I visited the Social Security Administration (SSA) and applied to be the “representative payee” for my parents. I was gleeful with the ease and simplicity of the process.  I met with staff, made some sworn statements, signed a paper confirming my relationship and duties as well as supplied my Durable Power of Attorney. I was told I should get all the information in the mail in 4 – 6 weeks.

When nothing arrived, I called several times but kept getting routed to the call center and no one there could assist me. While I had the contact name of the woman I met, the number she provided rolls over to the call center and I was never able to reach her after my initial visit.

In August, three months after my visit, I received a letter telling me my Dad’s check was withheld due to an address problem. The letter allowed me to follow-up with a specific contact and in trying to resolve this, I ask is they can find out what happened to my Mom’s papers. I am told they can’t speak to me because her paperwork never got processed. But I did them both on the same day and with the same woman. How can this be?

The nice man on the other end of the phone from the Social Security Administration (SSA) tells me that at this point, I need to get back into the office to clean up the issues. When I ask to schedule an appointment, which was so easy the first time, I’m told that the first available appointment is two months away. He is sympathetic and explains that the local offices have been given additional responsibilities and they are really busy these days. I hang up thinking I need to find a day to spend back at Social Security.

That afternoon someone from SSA called and wants to talk with me. She asks me a few questions and says they are going to try to clear this issue up without me having to go into the local office. I’m pleasantly surprised. Within a few weeks, I receive my Mom’s paperwork and my Dad’s account is updated.

Kudos to the SSA staff — once I got the letter and followed up to the assigned contact — he listened to me and worked to resolve this for me.

However, the process took over four months from beginning to end and I had to manage the checking account and bill payments without this money for two of those months because my Dad’s payments were frozen.

Two months later, my father passed away. and to process the transition of his military retirement pay, I need a copy of my Mom’s social security card. We have searched high and low, and there is not one to be found. Looks like I’m headed back to the Social Security office. Warned.


– Ask for an appointment to avoid REALLY long lines at the local office

– Show up with Social Security Numbers, a valid driver’s license ( or other accepted photo ID) and your Durable Power of Attorney

– Expect this process will take several months

– Be prepared to manage without pay if something goes wrong during the processing

– Request that they send you a Social Security card (don’t know if they will, but recommend you ask)