Skip to main content

Informing Social Security's Process for Financial Capability Determination

View Cover

Purchase Options
Purchase Options MyNAP members save 10% online. Login or Register



The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to disabled adults and children, offering vital financial support to more than 19 million disabled Americans. Of that group, approximately 5.5 million have been deemed – by virtue of youth or mental or physical impairment - incapable of managing or directing the management of their benefits. Hence, a representative payee has been appointed to receive and disburse SSA payments for these beneficiaries to ensure that their basic needs for shelter, food, and clothing are met. Periodically, however, concerns have been expressed about the accuracy of the process by which SSA determines whether beneficiaries are capable of managing their benefits, with some evidence suggesting that underdetection of incapable recipients may be a particular problem.

The importance of creating as accurate a process as possible for incapability determinations is underscored by the consequences of incorrectly identifying recipients either as incapable when they can manage their benefits or as capable when they cannot. Failure to identify beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their funds means abandoning a vulnerable population to potential homelessness, hunger, and disease.

Informing Social Security’s Process for Financial Capability Determination considers capability determination processes used by other similar benefit programs, abilities required to manage, and direct the management of, benefits, and effective methods and measures for assessing capability. This report evaluates SSA’s capability determination process for adult beneficiaries and provides recommendations for improving the accuracy and efficiency of the agency’s policy and procedures for making these determinations.


Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Informing Social Security's Process for Financial Capability Determination. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Import this citation to:

Publication Info

244 pages |6 x 9
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-39257-0
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-39260-0

Copyright Information

The National Academies Press and the Transportation Research Board have partnered with Copyright Clearance Center to offer a variety of options for reusing our content. You may request permission to:

  • Republish or display in another publication, presentation, or other media
  • Use in print or electronic course materials and dissertations
  • Share electronically via secure intranet or extranet
  • And more

For most Academic and Educational uses no royalties will be charged although you are required to obtain a license and comply with the license terms and conditions.

Click here to obtain permission forInforming Social Security's Process for Financial Capability Determination.

Translation and Other Rights

For information on how to request permission to translate our work and for any other rights related query please click here. Customer Service

For questions about using the service, please contact:

Copyright Clearance Center
22 Rosewood Drive
Danvers, MA 01923
Tel (toll free): 855/239-3415 (select option 1)

Loading stats for Informing Social Security's Process for Financial Capability Determination...