The Social Security Administration (SSA) has the critical mission of providing the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to many of the most vulnerable members of society: the young, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Within this system, if a beneficiary of SSI is determined to be incapable of managing their own benefits, SSA appoints an individual to receive and manage benefits on behalf of a beneficiary, known as a representative payee.
Approximately 8 million beneficiaries currently receive payments through a representative payee. Most representative payees discharge their responsibilities without evidence of fraud. However, there have been cases of abuse and financial malfeasance by representative payees. In April 2018, Congress signed into law the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 to improve efforts to protect Social Security beneficiaries who rely on representative payees. Among other provisions, this law calls for a study by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) of information sharing pertaining to representative payees or those who may be appointed as representative payees.
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In support of the broader ACUS study, the Academy conducted an independent third-party evaluation of the opportunities, challenges, risks, and potential options for implementing information sharing between SSA and state courts and relevant state agencies from a public administration perspective. This assessment included consideration of financial, information technology (IT), operational and organizational capacity issues.