Local resource group fears changes to social security "payee" process

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - 800 Alaskans.

That's how many people advocates say are at risk of losing access to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income if new restrictions are put in place.

For more than 20 years, a large group of Alaska's social security recipients have utilized representative payees to accept their checks, manage their finances and ensure their eligible state as benefit recipients.

Federal regulations are in place to ensure that these payees operate under state agencies or through nonprofit organizations; however, Alaska has long been the exception, allowing individuals to charge a fee to provide payee services.

Now, a potential change that would bring the state's payee procedure in line with federal rules is creating concern from those that would be affected.

Hope Community Resources once provided payee services to clients but decided that it was a conflict of interest and helped to established a separate process for clients to obtain a paid representative payee. Now about 800 Alaskans are at risk finding themselves without a payee- someone who would normally handle their finances, their budgets and in some cases, their eligibility to receive benefits like medicare and social security.

While conversations have been had about Alaska's current noncompliance, those who have participated say there's not much information to go off of. The executive director of Hope Community Resources, Roy Scheller, says no timeline has been given on if or when any changes might be enforced.

KTUU reached out to representatives from the Social Security Administration's Seattle office on Friday. At the time this article was published, no response had been issued.

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