TN 41 (02-14)

GN 00502.132 Selecting a Qualified Representative Payee (RP)

A. Policy for selection of a representative payee

Deciding whether an applicant will make a good representative payee is an extremely important decision. Make the determination to select a payee after you determine a beneficiary is incapable. For information on determining capability, see GN 00502.010. Your determination may greatly affect a beneficiary’s quality of life. You must weigh all available information including:

  • answers to questions collected in the payee application;

  • the applicant’s relationship to the beneficiary;

  • whether the applicant has custody of the beneficiary;

  • all known information about the applicant’s past payee performance (if any); and

  • criminal history.

1. Persons barred from serving as representative payee

We prohibit some individuals from serving as payees and we may never appoint them as payee under any circumstances. For information on applicants we bar from ever serving as payee, see GN 00502.133.

If the applicant is barred from ever serving as payee, document this information on the Applicant/Representative Payee Special Text (RPST) screen (MSOM RPS 002.020) in the Representative Payee System (RPS) using the procedures in GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

2. Individuals considered questionable payee choices

Some individuals are questionable payee choices and you must not appoint them (or allow them to continue) as payee unless:

  • there is not a more suitable alternative;

  • direct payment is prohibited or inappropriate; and

  • you have determined that the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary.

Document your suitability determination, on the RPST screen in RPS using the procedures in GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

Questionable payee choices include:

  • convicted felons (for crimes other than those listed in GN 00502.133);

  • applicants with a prior history of misuse;

  • applicants imprisoned for more than 1 year; and

  • creditors of the beneficiary. For more information on a payee applicant that is a creditor, see GN 00502.135.

Generally, any criminal history casts serious doubts about the payee applicant’s suitability. You must consider all evidence available and weigh all factors that indicate the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary. You must document your payee selection or non-selection determination on the RPST screen in RPS.

3. People with unsatisfied felony warrants (Martinez v. Astrue Class Action Settlement)

We may consider an applicant's suitability to serve as a representative payee if the individual has an unsatisfied felony warrant. If the applicant’s offense code is 4901, 4902, or 4999, do not select that individual to be a payee. There are no exceptions to this prohibition. For information on individuals considered fugitive felons, see GN 00502.133A.2. 

B. Procedure for processing and documenting RPS negative indicators or alerts

1. Reasons for gathering information

RPS is an investigative tool to help you make appropriate payee appointments. The representative payee application path in the RPS displays remarks on the Individual RP Full Query Response (RPFQ) screen (MSOM RPS 007.006) to alert you to historical negative events or other situations that need careful review prior to making the appointment determination. You must carefully review this screen for the presence of such remarks and thoroughly consider the information it provides prior to making the appointment determination. In addition, the representative payee application asks the applicant specific questions about certain types of criminal behavior. Information about how a person has previously performed payee duties is critical; therefore, it is important to record information about the payee’s performance, particularly occurrences of misuse, on the RPS so it is available for future consideration.

2. Documenting in RPS negative indicators or alerts

For each negative indicator or alert, you must fully document your payee selection or non-selection on the RPST screen in RPS. You must develop and document all criminal information, such as:

  • the nature of the crime;

  • when the crime occurred; and

  • the sentence the applicant received.

You must document the relationship to, and custody of, the beneficiary to the applicant when making your determination.

NOTE: We generally bar individuals convicted of certain crimes from serving as a representative payee, refer to GN 00502.133.

3. RPS remarks defined

a. RP convicted under Sec 208/1632

The “RP convicted under Sec 208/1632” remark means the person was convicted of Social Security fraud under one or more of these statutes. The law prohibits anyone convicted under these provisions from ever serving as a payee. There are no exceptions. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) provides SSA Central Office (CO) staff with a list of these convictions, and SSA Regional Office (RO) staff then input the lists into RPS. The RPS alerts you when an applicant has this type of conviction posted in the RPS and does not permit that applicant to be selected as payee.

b. RP self-reported fugitive felon

The “RP self-reported fugitive felon” remark means the payee applicant answered “yes” to the representative payee application question asking, “do you have any unsatisfied felony warrants for your arrest?” Prohibit a person from serving as a representative payee if he or she has an unsatisfied felony warrant issued for one of the following three offenses:

  • Escape from custody (offense code 4901),

  • Flight to avoid prosecution, confinement, etc. (offense code 4902), and

  • Flight-escape (offense code 4999).

There are no exceptions to this prohibition. If the warrant is satisfied and the individual is no longer a fugitive felon under these three codes, then the individual can serve as payee if he or she is the most suitable applicant and no other prohibited conditions exist.

If the warrant is satisfied or is for an offense code other than 4901, 4902, or 4999, carefully consider the nature of the crime and how the applicant resolved the warrant. Do not appoint the individual as payee if you determine that he or she poses some risk to the beneficiary. For further instructions for payees with past criminal behavior, see GN 00502.133. Document your non-selection or selection, on the RPST screen in RPS. For more information on persons who should not be appointed as representative payees, refer to GN 00502.132B.2.

NOTE: The fugitive felon provisions for representative payees differ from those for benefit payments. The representative payee provisions do not apply to those persons who are parole and probation violators and they do not provide good cause exceptions for those with unsatisfied felony warrants (with offense codes 4901, 4902, or 4999).

c. RP prev fug felon match-verify status

The “RP prev fug felon match-verify status” remark means that in the past this person was identified with an offense code of 4901, 4902, or 4999 by the Fugitive Felon/RPS system match process. For fugitive felon prohibition, refer to GN 00502.133A.2 and GN 00504.102. When the fugitive felon/RPS system identifies a person through the match process, the system builds a fugitive felon match indicator of “Y” on the RPS. If this remark appears during a new RP application, ask the applicant about his fugitive felon status on the Representative Payee Criminal Warrant (RPCW) screen. If the applicant alleges the outstanding felony warrant is satisfied or is for an offense other than 4901, 4902, or 4999, verify this information before you make your determination (Refer to GN 02613.500A.2). If you confirm that the warrant has been satisfied, update the RPS (Select 2/8, RPSSN) by selecting option 4 off the RPDU and remove the fugitive felon match indicator.

If the warrant has been satisfied, update the warrant disposition on the Fugitive Felon System Control File Database (FFSCF). (For further instructions on the FFSCF, see MSOM PRISON 006.003 and MSOM PRISON 006.006). Document this information, on the RPST screen in RPS. For more information, refer to GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

d. RP pre-4/1/09 FF match – ver status

The “RP pre-4/1/09 FF match – ver status” remark means the fugitive felon match process identified the payee before the April 01, 2009, changes required by the Martinez Court Case agreement. (For more information on the Martinez court case see GN 02613.860). It also means the applicant may have an outstanding felony warrant.

You must verify the offense code and if the applicant satisfied the warrant to determine whether the offense code prohibits the applicant from serving as payee. Document this information, on the RPST screen in RPS. For instructions on determining if the warrant is satisfied see GN 02613.500A.2.

e. RP has a RP

The “RP has a RP” remark means the representative payee is a beneficiary or recipient with a representative payee. When this situation occurs, investigate and determine if the applicant is capable of managing his or her benefits, per GN 00502.020. As a person needing a Rep payee, this individual cannot serve as a Rep payee. Do not appoint an applicant as a representative payee if he or she has a representative payee. There are no exceptions to this rule.

f. RP has committed RP related fraud

The “RP has committed RP related fraud” remark means the person was convicted of fraud directly related to his or her representative payee duties (misuse, conversion of benefits, etc.). However, he or she was convicted under statutes other than sections 208, 811, or 1632 of the Social Security Act. The OIG provides SSA CO staff with a list of these convictions. CO staff sends the list to the RO staff. The RO staff input the information into the RPS. This alert appears when you access the RPS to make a query or take an application. SSA bars an individual with this alert from serving as a representative payee. Do not appoint a representative payee applicant who has committed representative payee related fraud. There are no exceptions to this rule. Document your non-selection determination on the RPST screen in RPS. For more information refer to, GN 00502.132B.2.

g. RP has a history of misuse

The “RP has a history of misuse” remark means that the RPS contains information that the payee applicant was previously a payee and misused the beneficiary’s benefits. In addition to generating this remark on the RPFQ screen, RPS generates a Representative Payee Misuse Information (RMIS) screen reflecting information about the past misuse occurrence. While prior misuse is not an absolute bar to representative payee service, it is a very strong indicator that this person is not a good payee candidate.

Do not appoint a representative payee applicant with prior history of misuse unless:

  • the applicant has repaid or established a plan to repay the misused amount,

  • you have evidence that the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary, and

  • there is not a more suitable applicant.

If selecting a payee with a prior history of misuse, document your determination on the Relationship Special Text (RLST) screen in RPS. Management must approve the appointment of the payee applicant and you must prepare a 3 month diary for follow up per GN 00502.134B.2. Document management’s approval on the RLST screen.

h. RP is overpaid due to death of beneficiary

The “RP is overpaid due to death of the beneficiary” remark means that during prior service as a payee, the applicant received a check issued after the death of a beneficiary and did not return the check to SSA. A payee’s failure to return payments received after the death of a beneficiary is an indication that the applicant is not a suitable payee choice. In addition, for payments issued after December 13, 2000, sections 204(a) and 1631(b) of the Social Security Act provide that the payee is personally responsible for this type of overpayment. For more information see GN 02201.001B.2.e.

To verify the correctness of the alert message and to determine the record involving the overpayment take the following steps:

  1. Obtain a representative payee query (3/7 off the Representative Payee Main Menu (RPMM);

  2. Enter 2 on the RP Query Response Selection List (RQSL) screen (MSOM RPS 007.002);

  3. On the Individual RP Full Query Response screen (RPLM) (MSOM RPS 007.007) select 4 “Terminated” to obtain a list of terminated beneficiaries;

  4. Look for a Y in the Bene OP field on the far right of the Individual RP Full Query Response (RPFT) screen; and

  5. Query the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR), Payment History Update System Queries (PHUS), or Supplemental Security Record (SSR) to verify when death occurred and if the check is still outstanding.

Do not appoint a representative payee applicant who has received and not returned checks issued after the death of a beneficiary unless you have evidence that:

  • the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary;

  • there are no other more suitable applicants; and

  • the debt has been satisfied.

Document this information on the RPST screen in RPS.

i. RP self-reported felon

The “RP self-reported felon” remark means that the current or prior representative payee application indicates the applicant reported he or she was convicted of a felony. When this situation occurs, ask for additional information about the type of crime, when it occurred, and the sentence the applicant received. There are certain felony crimes that bar some applicants from serving as a representative payee. For a list of these crimes, see GN 00502.133.

You may not appoint a payee applicant convicted of a felony crime listed in GN 00502.133A.4 unless there is no other suitable applicant and he or she is

  • the custodial parent of a minor child for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • the custodial spouse for the beneficiary for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • the custodial parent of a disabled adult child for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • the custodial grandparent of the minor grandchild for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • the custodial court appointed guardian of a beneficiary for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • a parent who was previously payee for his or her minor child who has since turned 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits; or

  • an individual who has received a presidential or gubernatorial pardon for his or her crimes.

For other felony crimes not listed in GN 00502.133.A.4, do not appoint the applicant unless you have evidence that he or she poses no risk to the beneficiary and there are no other more suitable applicants. Document this information on the RPST screen in RPS. For more refer to GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

j. RP incarceration for over 1 year

The “RP incarceration for over 1 year” remark means that during the current or prior payee application, the applicant responded that he or she was incarcerated for more than 1 year. When this occurs, ask for additional details about the crime. Document this information on the RPST screen in RPS. For more information refer to GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

Persons incarcerated for more than 1 year may not serve as payee unless there is a compelling reason to appoint them and you determine it would be in the best interests of the beneficiary.

Do not appoint a representative payee applicant imprisoned for more than 1 year unless you have evidence that he or she poses no risk to the beneficiary and there are no other more suitable applicants.

Do not appoint a payee applicant imprisoned for more than 1 year if he or she has been convicted of a felony crime listed in GN 00502.133A.4. unless there is no other suitable applicant and he or she is:

  • the custodial parent of the minor child for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • the custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • the custodial parent of a disabled adult child for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • the custodial grandparent of the minor grandchild for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • the custodial court appointed guardian of a beneficiary for whom he or she is applying to be payee;

  • a parent who was previously payee for his or her minor child who has since turned 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits; or

  • an individual who received a presidential or gubernatorial pardon for his or her crimes and there are no more suitable applicants.

Document this information on the RPST screen in RPS. For more information, refer to GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

k. RP applicant on PUPS database

The “RP applicant on PUPS database” remark means that a PUPS query exists for the payee. If this remark appears during a new RP application, you must query the PUPS record and discuss the prisoner information with the applicant.

If you encounter the alert “RP applicant on PUPS Database” on the RPFQ screen:

  • Query the applicant’s PUPS record and

  • Review the information on the PUPS record.

PUPS shows the date of confinement, date of conviction, and the release date. Some records may show blanks or 0000s for these dates. If the information is incomplete, ask the payee applicant to provide the missing information following the procedures on verifying criminal history in GN 00502.117B.3. Document this information on the RPST screen in RPS. For more information refer to GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

If the payee applicant is also a title II beneficiary or SSI recipient, consider the effect of the incarceration on his or her own entitlement or eligibility.

4. Other alerts

a. PUPS/RPS match alert

RPS generates a PUPS/RPS alert when current prisoner data is matched against the RPS and a match is found on someone with an active payee record. The alert means we received information from a prison that the payee was (and may still be) incarcerated and therefore we must investigate this person's suitability to continue as payee. This is a post-entitlement process, which produces an alert to the field and establishes a Development Worksheet (DW) issue in RPS. For processing instructions on representative payee identified by the PUPS match, refer to GN 00504.103.

b. Fugitive felon/RPS match alert

RPS generates the fugitive felon/RPS match alert when fugitive felon data is received and matches an active or pending rep payee record in the RPS. Effective April 1, 2009, only unsatisfied felony warrants with offense code 4901, 4902, or 4999 run against the RPS (parole or probation data screened out). This is a post-entitlement alert process which

  • produces an alert item to the field,

  • establishes a fugitive felon indicator of “Y” on the representative payee’s record (for fugitive felon alerts see GN 00502.132B.3.c in this section), and

  • establishes a DW issue in RPS.

For processing instructions on representative payees identified by the fugitive felon match, refer to GN 00504.102.

c. Notification that a Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) was imposed

RPS receives notification any time a CMP is imposed on a current representative payee. Referrals to the Office of the Inspector General, (OIG) can result in the imposition of a CMP. OIG imposes a CMP when they determine the individual’s conduct was bad enough to merit its imposition.

Weigh the circumstances that caused the CMP and determine if the payee remains a suitable payee choice. Manually record information about the CMP on the RPST screen in RPS. For further processing instructions, see MSOM RPS 002.020.

C. References


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502132
GN 00502.132 - Selecting a Qualified Representative Payee (RP) - 02/27/2014
Batch run: 02/27/2014
Rev:02/27/2014