Individual Representative Payees Who Misuse Benefits

Date: 
Friday, May 4, 2012
Management Issue: 
Report Number: 
A-13-10-10182
Report Type: 
Audit Report
Office Affiliation: 

Some individuals are not able to manage their finances. For such beneficiaries, Congress provided for payment through a representative payee who receives and manages payments.

Our audit found that SSA did not always take appropriate actions concerning individual representative payees who were serving 14 or fewer beneficiaries and who misused benefit payments. Specifically, the Agency did not always obtain restitution from payees when it could use benefit adjustment to do so; pay beneficiaries when Agency negligence was determined; document negligence decisions; refer instances of misuse to the Office of the Inspector General; make restitution to beneficiaries when misused funds were collected in installments from payees; follow policy regarding retention of payees who commit misuse; and record misuse-related data accurately in the Representative Payee System.

SSA had taken actions intended to improve its oversight and management of these payees. In October 2011 and January 2012, SSA released versions of its Electronic Representative Payee System Misuse System and revised its policies.  However, SSA need to take additional actions to improve its oversight and management of individual representative payees serving 14 or fewer beneficiaries who misused benefit payments.