Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced the agency’s implementation of a pro bono pilot in Maryland for attorneys interested in being a representative payee for a Social Security beneficiary. Representative payees provide crucial help to the most vulnerable individuals in our community with their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments.
“The Maryland Representative Payee Pro Bono Pilot offers attorneys a chance to fulfill the Court of Appeals’ aspirational goal of providing pro bono services – by assisting the young, elderly, and disabled with their Social Security benefits,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said. “Attorneys are held to high ethical standards and will serve this at-risk population with the compassion and integrity they deserve.”
Any licensed Maryland attorney in good standing can volunteer for this pilot project by registering at www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/probonopilot.htm. Social Security will use the information provided to connect interested attorneys with beneficiaries in need of the services. The Maryland pilot will expand the network of available candidates to help assist those in need. “The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland supports the new pilot project and looks forward to working with the Social Security Administration in promoting this important opportunity to assist vulnerable individuals to the Maryland legal community,” stated Sharon E. Goldsmith, Executive Director of PBRC. PBRC serves as the designated pro bono arm of the Maryland State Bar Association.
Representative payees provide a key service to Social Security recipients who are unable to manage their benefits. Nearly 21 percent of people who need help managing their payments do not have family members or trusted friends who can help them. Payees receive monthly payments on behalf of the beneficiary and use the funds to meet the individual’s basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. They also keep records and ensure that Social Security funds are used to care for the recipient. Once the pilot is successful in Maryland, the agency will consider expanding to states nationwide.
Acting Commissioner Colvin reinforced that “representative payees play a vital role in serving our beneficiaries and creating a stable living environment for the most vulnerable people in our society. I encourage eligible Maryland attorneys to participate in this pilot.”