How Should a Representative Payee Deal With an Economic Impact Payment?


Dear Steve,

I need to ask for some advice. When the Economic Impact Payment was approved it included those who receive SSI, SSDI, and Veteran benefits. When the IRS was sending out the $1,200 and $2,000 I think for family’s they deposited in bank accounts that was used to file taxes, bank accounts if you receive social security benefits in a bank account, a check or debit card with your payment.

Social Security put out a press release on their website about the Economic Impact Payment for Representative Payees who manage social security benefits for someone who receives benefits every month.

There were Questions and Answers for the Representative payee so they would know about the Economic Impact Payment. Because the Economic Impact Payment is not a social security benefit then the Representative Payee cannot manage and have to give to the social security beneficiary if they want to use or save Independently. SSDI and Economic Impact Payment are two separate things that was approved for two different reasons.

One was approved for disability to use as monthly spending and the other was approved to help get through the Coronavirus Pandemic.

It would make sense for the Beneficiary to receive both because they were approved to use for different reasons.

The Representative payee has to report every year how the benefits are spent, but because the Economic Impact Payment is not a Social Security Benefit it does not have to be reported and should be given to the beneficiary if he/she wants to use or save Independently.

Should a Representative Payee be able to hold a person monthly spending from disability and give only part of the Economic Impact Payment, if Social Security has made it clear that the Economic Impact Payment is not a social security benefit and they have nothing to do with the payment and it should be given to beneficiary along with their monthly benefit to get through the Coronavirus Pandemic?

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Dear Tess,

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

I asked Eric Olsen, an attorney and the Executive Director of HELPS, for some assistance in answering your question.

Here is what Eric said, “The Payee has no right to withhold the EIP payment from the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants the money then the Representative Payee must simply give the money to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants help handling the money, the Representative Payee can assist “outside the role of a representative payee.”

The answer to this question is on the SSA’s website here.

Here is the applicable quote with specific language in bold:

How should a representative payee use a beneficiary’s economic impact payment (EIP)?

The EIP belongs to the Social Security or SSI beneficiary. It is not a Social Security or SSI benefit. A representative payee should discuss the EIP with the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants to use the EIP independently, the representative payee should provide the EIP to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary asks the representative payee for assistance in using the EIP in a specific manner or saving it, the representative payee can provide that assistance outside the role of a representative payee.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

Eric Olsen, Executive Director HELPS Nonprofit Law Firm. HELPS assists seniors with debt.We protect seniors from unwanted debt collector contact. We also educate seniors about their financial rights, including how their Social Security and other retirement income are protected from collectors and available for their needs. We help many seniors who bank with a credit union, so we have seen firsthand the difficulties seniors face when their credit unions don’t follow the law. Learn more about HELPS at www.helpsishere.org or call HELPS toll-free at 855-435-7787.
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