On April 13, 2018, the President signed the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 into law. This law, in part, codifies preexisting SSA regulations to conduct background checks on prospective representative payees, and prohibit certain felons from becoming representative payees. Additionally, this law requires background checks to be done on all representative payees at least every five years. Now, SSA has released a final regulation on “Prohibiting Persons with Certain Criminal Convictions from Serving as Representative Payees.” 84 Fed. Reg. 4323 (Feb. 15, 2019).
The ban applies only to certain felonies: human trafficking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, rape and assault, first degree homicide, robbery, fraud to obtain access to government assistance, fraud by scheme, theft of government funds or property, abuse or neglect, forgery, and identity theft or identity fraud.
There are some exceptions to this ban, however. An applicant who is a custodial parent of a minor child beneficiary; a custodial parent of a child beneficiary who became disabled before 22, but still receives benefits; custodial court appointed guardian; a parent who was a representative payee for a minor who turned 18, but still receives benefits; or an applicant who received a Presidential or gubernatorial pardon, is not prohibited from being a representative payee. This is not a significant change from previous policy, except for continuing background checks.
Thanks to Albany Law School student Alexandrea Nuwer for summarizing this regulation.