Why is Social Security asking if I am “able to pay bills” or if my “ability to handle money has changed since the illnesses, injuries, or conditions began”? I have been out of work and do not have money to pay my bills.
Many of our clients are frustrated by the question because they have fallen behind on bills since being unable to work and are feeling a great deal of stress and anxiety about their financial situation. This question causes a lot confusion because Social Security words it poorly.
The information that Social Security is looking for when asking this question is not whether you have enough money to pay your bills, but instead information like:
Notice that these questions above are focusing more about your ability to manage your money responsibly and not about whether you have enough money or credit available to meet your expenses month to month. When answering questions like this, think about examples of how you may need help from others to do things like organizing your budget, to physically write out checks or complete online payment forms. Being able to identify difficulties that you may have in these areas will give Social Security a better idea of what your needs and limitations are.
Some disabilities, especially ones that are intellectual or emotional in nature, can interfere with someone’s ability to concentrate or remember to pay bills on time. Others can make it difficult for someone to resist the urge to spend money more impulsively.
In some cases, Social Security may determine that a person is incapable of managing their own money because of their disabilities. In these cases, Social Security will appoint a person to act as your “Representative Payee.” This payee can be someone that you have chosen yourself, often a family member, but in rare occasions a professional third-party payee may be chosen on your behalf. The Payee’s role is to manage your money and to ensure that your living expenses and foreseeable needs are paid on your behalf with your benefits. If you would like to appoint someone to act as your Payee you will need to provide Social Security with that person's name and contact information.
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