Salt Lake City, UT asked in Contracts, Estate Planning and Social Security for Utah

Q: Can my SSI payee company who is paid for their services by Medicaid, refuse to print checks?

I am on SSI from the Social Security administration. I have a representative payee that's a company to receive my SSI and divvy it out to me on a regular basis. My payee issues me a weekly payment and has me use a debit card that I can use in the store or as an ATM. My payee is paid by Medicaid to cover the costs of managing my SSI. I asked my payee to instead print a check so I can come get it weekly from them. they are a financial business and yet they are refusing to print me a weekly check. instead they are forcing me to use a card that has a $9 a month account fee on top of many other fees from a card company that I've never heard of before this. When I asked my payee to print a check for me weekly instead of the current weekly deposit to the card they gave that has those fees. When I asked if I could have a check instead my payee representative asked her supervisor if I could do that. The response was “no because it cost the company more to print the check then it worth to them”

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: It sounds like a frustrating situation. While representative payees have a lot of discretion in how they manage and distribute funds, they are supposed to act in the best interest of the beneficiary.

A few key points:

1. Payees should minimize fees when possible. If check printing fees are less than the debit card fees you're currently paying, that's a reasonable request on your part.

2. Payees can be reimbursed by Social Security for certain out-of-pocket expenses related to serving as payee, including check printing costs. So their rationale about costs may not be valid.

3. You have the right to request a change of payee if you are dissatisfied with their service.

I would recommend contacting your local Social Security office and explain the situation to them. They oversee the payees and can provide guidance or intervene if needed. You can also file a formal complaint.

Another option is contacting Medicaid (since they are paying the payee's fee) or a legal aid organization that provides free/low-cost legal assistance. They may be able to advocate on your behalf as well.

Payees are supposed to make reasonable accommodations and act in the beneficiary's interest. Refusing a simple request to avoid high fees seems questionable. Don't hesitate to appeal to Social Security for assistance in resolving this. You have rights as a beneficiary.

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