This will also help ensure the accuracy of your accounting system. Separating employee duties helps deter fraud and theft. If the size of your staff allows, assign a different person to perform each of the following basic duties:. You should establish a procedure for the review and supervision of accounting functions.
For example, you could:. You should perform monthly reconciliations of ledgers and bank records as soon as you receive bank statements. This gives you the opportunity to correct errors and inconsistencies in your records.
The reconciliation should include explanations for any discrepancies and be retained as part of your accounting records. An employee who is authorized to deposit or withdraw beneficiary funds should not perform these reconciliations. Instead, have a second party certify that the reconciliation is complete and accurate.
In addition, you should conduct routine internal audits of financial and bank records. The auditor should be someone who can verify the accuracy and completeness of your records but not the same person responsible for daily entries into the ledgers and bank accounts.
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Finally, you should consider having an outside contractor or other entity conduct annual audits of your financial and bank records. You should lock up stocks of blank checks in a secure cabinet or other container, preferably in an access-controlled area. As a backup procedure for your accounting system, you should regularly make backup copies of computer and paper records and files so you can recover records if your master files are lost, stolen, or destroyed.
You should also have a disaster recovery plan so that procedures are in place for using backup copies to restore records and files if it ever becomes necessary. If you keep your accounting records on a computer, you can help protect your files from unauthorized access by using password protection.
Many off-the-shelf software programs include a password protection feature that you can enable for this purpose.
See Collective Accounts. You should never reveal an account number to a beneficiary. This will help prevent a beneficiary from making unauthorized telephone and Internet transactions. You should take precautions within your own organization to help reduce the likelihood of fraud. Fraud often takes the form of embezzlement, forged signatures on checks, theft of check stock, and forged check endorsements.
Your bank should be able to advise you about check security features and any fraud prevention programs it has. For example, you may be able to arrange for your bank to require two signatures before payment when presented with a check exceeding a certain amount. While most payees are not eligible to receive payment for being payee, the law allows payment of a fee for payee services in very limited circumstances. Important: A creditor organization's authorization to collect a fee for serving as a payee for one beneficiary does not extend to other beneficiaries for whom it is creditor.
Rather, a creditor organization must request an authorization to collect a fee from us each time it applies to be payee. We will make a decision on a case-by-case basis. Before your organization may collect a fee for performing payee services, you must request approval by obtaining a form SSA Application to Collect a Fee for Payee Services , in person, from your local SSA office, completing it, and submitting it to the office. Some organizations that serve as payee have multiple extensions or branches.
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Each branch will serve as payee for beneficiaries in their area. To collect a fee from beneficiary funds for payee services, each branch must request approval with an SSA The local SSA office approves each branch individually. If there is a change in ownership, you must submit a new SSA and receive approval from us before continuing to collect a fee. The following items are required from the organizational payee as part of the FFS application process;.
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If your organization is not a State or local government agency, you must also submit the following documents with the request:. If your organization receives our authorization to collect a fee for payee services, you should keep a copy of the approval letter for your records. You may not collect fees for any month prior to the month that we issued the fee approval notice to you. We limit the amount of fee an authorized FFS payee may collect from each beneficiary.
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This maximum fee amount, however, may change because of a cost of living adjustment. If you are a FFS payee, we will notify you by mail of any increase in the maximum fee allowed. If there is an increase, it would be effective in January of the next year. There are certain circumstances under which an otherwise authorized FFS payee may not collect a fee. Important: In certain circumstances, with our prior approval, an organization may be authorized to collect a fee from the payment of accrued past due benefits. We may allow this when we make a payment for a prior period of nonpayment or incorrect payment and the FFS payee:.
A county mental health association was an authorized FFS payee for a beneficiary whose disability payments were stopped effective January Members of the association staff assisted the beneficiary in processing an appeal of the termination of benefits. While the appeal was pending, they also visited him at least once a month to ensure his county assistance payments were used for his basic needs.
In March SSA reinstated benefits to the individual and he received a payment for past due benefits for the period of January through March. We made the payments to the association, which was still the payee. Children in foster care are extremely vulnerable and face numerous challenges. Because we recognize that as foster care children transition to adulthood, the possible loss of benefits can be traumatic, we allow children with a qualifying disability living in foster care to file for SSI benefits 90 days before aging out of the system.
We encourage foster care agencies to act as advocates for these children and help them file for disability benefits, when appropriate. Identity theft is an increasingly common crime and victims often suffer extreme adverse consequences.
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The careless handling of personal information makes identity theft easier. As a payee, your organization keeps records containing personal information for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries. To deter identity theft and guard against the accidental loss or disclosure of confidential information, you should have documented guidelines and procedures to protect personal information. Remember that you are responsible for overseeing the performance and behavior of any contractors or volunteers who perform services for your organization. Your guidelines and procedures should apply to their activities, as well.
The Federal Trade Commission is the lead government agency on identity theft issues. For more ideas on preventing identity theft and to learn what else you can do if identity theft occurs, visit www. As a payee, you should know some things about Medicare and Medicaid coverage since you may need to help the beneficiary get medical services or treatment. Medicare and Medicaid are two similar, but different, programs and some beneficiaries will qualify for both. TTY users should call Medicaid is a State-run program that provides hospital and medical coverage for people with low income and little or no resources.
Each State has its own rules about who is eligible and what is covered under Medicaid. For more information about the Medicaid program, contact your local medical assistance agency, social services or welfare office. The law prevents most payees from collecting a fee for their payee services, but under certain circumstances, some organizational payees are granted approval to do so. Any organization that wishes to collect a fee for payee services must first apply and receive written authorization from us.
We will send you a "Representative Payee Report" at least once a year for each beneficiary you serve. The report is easy to complete if you keep clear monthly records of the payments you received and how you spent and saved the money. You must answer all the questions on the report and return it to us as soon as possible.
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