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Social Security and POAs -- not so simple *

Will the power of attorney that your attorney drafted for you as part of your estate plan be accepted by Social Security?

Say you suffer an accident and can't call or go to the Social Security office when a question about your Social Security benefits comes up. Can your attorney-in-fact named in your POA get on the phone and straighten out the problem?

After all, the POA is intended to give the person you have authorized to act on your behalf the power to do exactly that -- act.

Surprisingly, the answer is "no."

A POA is not recognized by the Treasury Department for the purposes of negotiating Social Security or Supplemental Security Income checks, according to Dorothy Clark, a spokesperson from the Social Security.

However, that does not mean you are without recourse.

You can write a letter to Social Security authorizing someone to take specific actions on your behalf and that letter will be recognized, Clark said.

What if you are a Connecticut resident who has been "conserved"? That is, a conservator has been appointed by the Probate Court to act on your behalf since you are incapable of managing your financial affairs?

Will your conservator get attention at Social Security?

Yes, if you need to apply for benefits, but no, if you need to receive payment of benefits on the conserved person's behalf.

In the latter case, Social Security will require the appointment of a "representative payee."

"A representative payee is an individual or organization appointed by us (Social Security) to receive Social Security and/or SSI benefits for someone who cannot manage or direct someone else to manage his or her money," Clark said.

So how do you become a representative payee?

Start with Social Security's "Guide for Representative Payees" at http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10076.html. You can also call 1-800-772-1213 to request the publication. If you are hard of hearing, call 1-800-352-0778.

Once you are appointed "representative payee" certain rules apply as to how the funds can be managed. For example, you must do a yearly accounting on Form SSA-623.

If the beneficiary's address changes, or the beneficiary marries or passes away, this information must be reported to Social Security as well.

But, let's say the person is not incapable of managing his or her own affairs. Shouldn't a POA suffice?

Say your mother is competent but physically unable to call, sign paperwork or go to the Social Security office to apply for retirement benefits. You have a Power of Attorney Form in hand that authorizes you to act on your mother's behalf.

If you go to the Social Security office with your POA, it will not be recognized, explained Clark.

Instead, you need a letter written by your mother giving you the authority to apply for benefits on her behalf.

Article Source: http://freelegalinformation.info

By Julie Jason, JD, LLM, NewsTimes.com

© 2006 - 2016 Free Legal Information.info

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