Power of Attorney & Social Security

By Jane Amar

When Social Security recipients become unable to manage their own affairs due to age or disability, friends or relative sometimes believe that a power of attorney will allow them to manage the recipient's Social Security checks.

Incapable Beneficiary

The power of attorney does not confer authority to manage a Social Security recipient's benefits. If the beneficiary is incapacitated, only Social Security can approve another person to handle benefits. This is accomplished through a representative payee application process.

Check Cashing Rules

The U.S. Treasury Department's regulations forbid using a power of attorney to cash Social Security benefit checks. Section 207 of the Social Security Act forbids assignment of benefits, and the power of attorney offers a potential way to assign benefits to a non-recipient.

Authorized Representative

A power of attorney does not authorize a person to act as an attorney or representative in the case of Social Security appeals or other business on a Social Security beneficiary's behalf. A recipient must submit a written and signed request directly to Social Security that contains the same information requested on Social Security form SSA-1696, Appointment of Representative.

Disclosure of Information

The Privacy Act limits who may consent to the disclosure of personal information from the Social Security records. Under the Privacy Act, a power of attorney does not give the authority to consent to the release of information, unless it includes specific instructions from the beneficiary about releasing such information.

About the Author

Jane Amar received a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish language and literature from the University of California in Riverside in 1970. After more than 37 years in government service in management and technical positions, she retired and began her writing career. Since 2007 she has written online content in English and Spanish for profit and nonprofit services and individual entrepreneurs.