SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1603. What if the beneficiary is age 18 or over?

1603.1 Under what circumstances will SSA select a representative payee for a beneficiary over age 18?

We will always pay benefits directly to a beneficiary age 18 or older unless the beneficiary:

  1. Is judged legally incompetent; or

  2. Is mentally incapable of managing his or her payments; or

  3. Is physically incapable of managing or directing the management of his or her payments.

1603.2 What is required for a decision of incapability?

We determine a beneficiary is incapable only when there is convincing evidence he or she is unable to manage or direct the management of benefits. See §§1604-1607 for a discussion of evidence.

1603.3 If SSA’s capability decision is pending, will SSA make direct payments?

If we are in the process of investigating a beneficiary’s ability to manage funds, and the decision is taking longer than anticipated, we may pay benefits directly until the investigation is complete.

In these cases, we will generally make direct payments to a beneficiary who is:

  1. Age 18 or over; and

  2. Legally competent.

When the capability determination is complete, we may either select a representative payee or allow the beneficiary to continue receiving benefits directly.

Last Revised: Nov. 16, 2010