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Representative Payee

Dear Advocate:

My sister was moved to a nursing home a few months ago following a stroke. I asked about her bills and found out that the nursing home has become a “representative payee” for my sister’s Social Security benefits and the facility is now receiving her checks. Is that legal?

Concerned in Corona

Dear Concerned:

Social Security beneficiaries who lose the ability to make their own decisions are often appointed a representative, or “rep” payee to manage their benefits. Nursing homes are prohibited from acting as residents’ rep payees by California regulations.

22 California Code of Regulations Section 72529(c) states that nursing home owners, administrators, and staff may not act as authorized representatives of residents’ monies or valuables. The reason why nursing homes are prohibited from acting as rep payees is because of the obvious conflict of interest such a relationship would present. Nursing homes could easily pay themselves for their services at the expense of other outstanding bills that are more important to the resident’s long term needs.

You should contact your local Social Security office and find out how to replace the nursing home as your sister’s representative payee.