Representative payee or VA fiduciary questions

What is a representative payee or VA fiduciary?

A government agency may appoint someone to manage income benefits for a person who needs help managing those benefits.

For example, the Social Security Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Railroad Retirement Administration call the person who is appointed a representative payee. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a similar program, but the person appointed is called a VA fiduciary. State agencies may have similar arrangements. Each agency may have different rules and procedures. This Guide covers two of the largest agencies, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the duties described in this Guide may be helpful to other representative payees.

Since you have been appointed as Roberto’s representative payee, we will sometimes call you a “rep payee” for short. Roberto is the beneficiary.

Once you are appointed as a rep payee or VA fiduciary, you must follow the basic fiduciary duties in this Guide. Plus, you also must meet certain reporting requirements of the particular agency.

What money does a representative payee or VA fiduciary manage?

You only have authority to manage the benefit checks of the agency appointing you. You have no legal authority to manage other property, financial affairs, or medical matters for Roberto. To control other matters, you must have legal authority from another source, such as through a power of attorney, trust agreement, or court appointment.

Even if you are Roberto’s agent under a power of attorney, his trustee under a trust, or the guardian of his estate, you don’t have legal authority to manage his federal benefits checks. You still must be appointed representative payee or VA fiduciary by the agency paying the benefit.

Am I personally liable for Roberto’s debts?

No, you are not personally liable for Roberto’s debts or for decisions you make on his behalf unless you acted beyond your authority or did not disclose that you were acting as Roberto’s agent.

Do I have to serve as Roberto’s representative payee or VA fiduciary?

No. You are not required to serve as a rep payee or VA fiduciary. You must let the government know if that is the case so that the government can find someone else to serve.