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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
December 2018
Current Golden Pages Cover
Golden Pages
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Generation Boomer

Senior Spectrum Publications

National Council on Aging
by Randy Feliciano, MPA
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The Growing Need for Representative Payees, and How You Can Help


Each year, millions of older adults become victims of financial exploitation. Protecting those who are most vulnerable—including those with cognitive impairments— is essential to ending the cycle of elder abuse.

Created in 1939 as an amendment to the Social Security Act, the Representative Payee Program is one tool that can help. Representative Payees assist individuals with physical and mental impairments, as well as minor children, who cannot manage or direct the management of their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Who qualifies to be a Representative Payee?

A Representative Payee is an appointed individual or organization who is deemed appropriate by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to manage the Social Security or SSI benefits for a single beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries. Whereas a family member may be the Representative Payee for their loved one, an Organizational Representative Payee (some of which operate on a fee for service basis) will often manage benefits for large numbers of beneficiaries. Other examples of payees include friends, nonprofit organizations, mental health service residences/facilities, and social services agencies.

What are the responsibilities of a Representative Payee?

When a Representative Payee is appointed, that individual, group, or organization is responsible for using the benefits to pay for the current and future needs of the beneficiary, and saving any benefits not needed to meet current needs.

Representative Payees are required to provide Social Security with a short form (accounting), which shows expenditures for food and housing and separately, personal spending (recreational expenses, clothes, etc.). The payee must ensure that the beneficiary’s bills are paid and that the beneficiary does not have a high level of excess income, which could disqualify them from SSI benefits.

A growing need

According to the 2016 issue brief Representative Payees: A Call to Action, more than 8 million Americans have an appointed Representative Payee managing their Social Security or SSI benefits. SSA recognizes that there is a growing need for older adults to have a Representative Payee, as baby boomers are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Inevitably, there will be a growing segment of aging adults with both physical and cognitive disabilities in need of assistance with managing their SSA benefits.

What can you do to help?

First, you can serve as a volunteer Representative Payee. To find opportunities near you, perform this simple web search: Volunteer Representative Payee programs in (fill in your location).

In Reno, Washoe County Senior Services has a Representative Payee program. Washoe County Senior Services is the first point of contact for Washoe County's growing population of seniors, their families, and caregivers. Contact them by telephone at (775) 328-2575, or visit the website at, by email at and/or visiting our main center at 1155 E. 9th Street, Reno, NV 89512.

WCSS mission is to ensure that every older adult is able to live independently as long as possible and to be informed of his or her long-term care options. WCSS also provides these services: Congregate Meals, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Law Project, Caregiver Support, Daybreak Adult Day Health Care, Social Services program and other services such as: Case Management, Representative Payee, Home care Services, and Visiting Nurse/Medication Management and volunteer opportunities.

Many organizations and local government agencies administer Representative Payee programs. In Nevada, the Aging and Disability Services Division offers Representative Payee services statewide. In Washoe County, ADSD is located at: Regional Office Reno 9670 Gateway Drive, Ste 200 Reno, NV 89521 Tele: (775) 687-0800

You also can advocate for someone in need by becoming familiar with your local ADSD or Washoe County Adult Protective Services offices found under the Human Services Agency (HSA). The HSA provides an array of protective and supportive services to families and individuals to enhance their quality of life by ensuring they are optimizing their self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Both of these resources provide wraparound supports for older adults and adults with disabilities.

Human Services Agency:
Adult Services
350 S. Center Street
Reno, NV 89501
(775) 328-2700

Senior Services
1155 E. Ninth Street
Reno, NV 89512
(775) 328-2575

9670 Gateway Drive Ste 200
Reno, NV 89521
(775) 687-0800