Social Security Tips

Communicating with Social Security on behalf of your parent or other senior adult family member: 

In order to communicate with Social Security on behalf of your parent, or other senior, you will need to provide evidence that he/she has authorized you as his or her personal representative (see “Representative Payee” below). It’s possible they may also require a letter from the senior’s primary care physician (PCP) that states the senior needs assistance with finances and healthcare due to a cognitive or medical condition.  (Due to patient privacy issues, the senior’s PCP may require the person holding power of attorney for healthcare to request such a letter).

The process of arranging to communicate with Social Security on behalf of your parent, or other senior, can be frustrating and difficult and may even vary somewhat from state to state.  Before beginning the process, either call Social Security 1-800-772-1213; or go “in person” to your local Social Security office and ask what additional document(s) if any, you will need to provide in order to be authorized to communicate with Social Security on behalf of your parent or another senior.

REPRESENTATIVE PAYEEDue to the inability of the senior to take care of his/her finances, becoming a Representative Payee is very important.  This should be done early on when the senior is still able to legally sign documents.  A Representative Payee is appointed to manage Social Security funds only but has no legal authority to manage non-Social Security income or medical matters.  If you agree to be a Representative Payee, then Social Security will pay you the senior’s benefits to use on his or her behalf.

Family members often use a “power of attorney” as a way to handle a family member’s finances.  For Social Security purposes, however, a “power of attorney” is not an acceptable method for managing a person’s monthly benefits.  Social Security only recognizes a ‘Representative Payee’ for handling the beneficiary’s funds.

For information about the Representative Payee Program visit:  For other information, contact the Social Security office (1-800-772-1213), or visit their website   When on the website, you can also get the address of your local Social Security office, request specific forms, and/or find copies of all Social Security publications.

Change of Address:  If you or a family member is the Representative Payee, arrange with the local Social Security office for the change of address.  Requirements for “change of address” vary from state to state and can change without notice.  Once the address is changed to that of the person acting as the Representative Payee, all mail pertaining to both Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (if applicable) will go to the Representative Payee.

“Success is measured by the willingness to keep trying.”  author unknown