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Larson, Reed Welcome GAO Recommendations to Strengthen Social Security’s Representative Payee Program

October 4, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Today, Chairman of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee John B. Larson (CT-01) and Ranking Member Tom Reed (NY-23) issued the following joint statement on the release of a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), “Social Security Benefits: SSA Needs to Improve Oversight of Organizations that Manage Money for Vulnerable Beneficiaries”:

“The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) representative payee program helps approximately 8 million Social Security beneficiaries, including nearly 4 million children, manage their benefits, if they are unable to do so themselves. Organizations play an important role in Social Security’s representative payee program and often serve some of the most vulnerable beneficiaries.

“It was once said that the moral test of any government is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens – children, seniors, and people with severe disabilities. Due to the critical role of organizations that serve as payees, the Social Security Subcommittee made a bipartisan request asking GAO to review organizational representative payees and how SSA selects, communicates with, and monitors these organizations. We thank the GAO for its review of this program, and we welcome its recommendations to strengthen the program. SSA should adopt these recommendations promptly.”

GAO’s nine recommendations for SSA include that the agency clarify how to assess complex suitability factors for organizational payees; assess requiring background checks for organizational payees; establish a timeframe for reviewing the predictive model for identifying high-risk, low-volume organizational payees and document design decisions resulting from that review; and establish timeframes for, and conduct revisions of the accounting form required annually for most organizational payees.