Supported Living Fiduciary Duties
General Fiduciary Duties when
Representative Payee is Community Integration Support Services, Inc.
As the Representative Payee, CISS has certain duties and obligations that it must meet under federal law. Sometimes the law requires Heartland to do things that make a lot of sense. For example, we must set up a special bank account, called a “fiduciary” account that is for the beneficiaries’ exclusive benefit. Other times, the law might not seem to make a lot of sense. For example, even though the bank account is for the beneficiaries’ exclusive benefit, he/she is not allowed to have direct access to the money.
Other duties and important information that you need to know are:
- CISS must use social security payments in the beneficiary’s best interest for his or her basic current and reasonably foreseeable needs. This means that before anything else, Social Security payments have to cover the basics. These are food, shelter (which includes utilities) and clothing.
If CISS advances money to a beneficiary for these basics it is allowed to reimburse itself from the Social Security payments. For example, if the beneficiary needs groceries, but he/she does not have the money, CISS can advance him/her money to buy food. When his/her Social Security payment arrives at the beginning of the next month, CISS may then reimburse itself the amount paid for food.
Any advancement must be documented by Heartland. Once a month, you will receive an accounting of all of the money received and paid out, including advances and reimbursements.
- Heartland must save any money left over after the beneficiary’s needs and obligations are met. If all of the basics are paid, Heartland can then pay other types of debts for the beneficiary. This might include loans, old debt, and non-essential bills, such as cable TV. If there are no other debts, Heartland will save the money for future use.
- Heartland must report any event that could affect the beneficiary’s entitlement to benefits. Social Security payments are based on a number of factors, one of which is employment. If a beneficiary gets a job, Heartland must report this to the Social Security Administration, because it may affect how much the beneficiary can receive. If Heartland does not report this, the Social Security Administration will typically discover the information through tax returns, and the beneficiary will have to repay any overpayment, if applicable. Often this means that large amounts are taken out of future social security payments, making things very tough financially for the beneficiary. For this reason, even though it may seem like “tattling”, it is actually in the beneficiary’s best interest for Heartland to report a client’s income accurately.
- Heartland must return any overpayments immediately. If Social Security accidentally deposits too much money in a beneficiary’s account, Heartland must return it immediately to avoid penalties and having money withheld from the beneficiary in future payments.
- Heartland must submit annual reports to Social Security on the receipt of benefits and the payment of bills. This requirement is designed to make certain that Representative Payees are doing their job and making good choices for the beneficiaries.
- Heartland must keep records for each beneficiary for two years, according to federal law. Holding on to records for a certain period of time is designed to help in investigations and assist any future Representative Payee. In Indiana, the required period of time to keep records is actually seven (7) years, which is must higher than the federal law. All providers, including Heartland, must meet the stricter requirement of the state.
- Heartland must immediately report any misuse of beneficiary funds to Social Security Administration and other authorities. This means that if Heartland discovers that an unauthorized individual spent money on items or debts that are improper, Heartland must let the Social Security Administration know about it. This is part of the federal checks and balances system to help avoid misuse of federal money or fraud.
- Heartland has limited authority as a Representative Payee. There are many different ways that one person can represent another. For purposes of Social Security income, if Heartland acts as a client’s Representative Payee, Heartland has certain duties and responsibilities regarding Social Security funds paid to that client. However, being a Representative Payee does not give Heartland the right or authority to handle other types of income, such as an RLA from the state. This is why Heartland asks you to sign a separate Financial Agreement. Without these specialized documents, Heartland can’t fully take care of all of a client’s financial management needs.
This also means that having a power of attorney or jointly sharing a bank account does not make a person or organization a Representative Payee for Social Security purposes. A special government form must be filled out, submitted and approved in order to have legal authority to manage a beneficiary’s Social Security income.
If you have additional questions or need further information on what Heartland may or may not do as an Organizational Representative Payee, you may wish to contact your local Social Security office, or check out the Social Security website at http://www.ssa.gov/ .
Once at the website, simply type “Representative Payee” in the “search” box for a review of the law, common questions, and where to go to file a complaint or receive more information.
omplaint or receive more information.