When incapacitated adults or an individual with disabilities loses the ability to take care of him or herself or make decisions, someone else typically has to step in to make these decisions on the person’s behalf. Whether this is a guardian or conservator depends largely on the laws of the state in which he or she lives, though the two positions serve similar purposes. Some individuals with disabilities stand to receive benefits from various government programs, such as Social Security or various military or other government programs. In this situation, the incapacitated adult typically has a representative payee who receives the money on behalf of the individual and uses the money for the individual’s benefit.
For example, many people with disabilities receive Social Security payments from the Social Security Administration, or SSA. If the recipient is unable to manage his or her own finances, SSA will make payments to a designated representative payee. This payee may be an individual or an organization, but whoever it is must use the funds in the best interests of the recipient. Assigning a representative payee is usually much simpler than appointing a conservatorship and can sometimes be used as an alternative, though it is not appropriate or sufficient in all situations. You should speak to an attorney about your options to receive government benefits payments as a representative payee and what your obligations are if you accept such a position.