Becoming an appointee for social security benefits
You can apply to become an appointee for someone who may need help with claiming benefit because they can’t manage their own affairs. This could be because they’re mentally incapable or, exceptionally, have severe physical disabilities. As an appointee you can be given the legal right to act for them.
Who can be an appointee
Only one appointee can act on behalf of someone who is entitled to benefits (the claimant) from the Department for Communities (DfC).
An appointee can be:
- an individual, for example, a friend or relative
- an organisation or representative of an organisation, for example, a solicitor
You can only be an appointee if DfC has appointed you to act on someone else's behalf. You will have to go to an interview, at which you will also complete form BF56. If you have not done this, then you’re not an appointee.
You won't be made an appointee if someone is capable but just needs some general help managing or getting their benefit. Also, you won't be an appointee just because it seems the most convenient way of helping someone.
Your responsibilities as an appointee
As an appointee you take on full responsibility for making and maintaining any claim and managing the spending of the benefit. This means that you:
- must claim any benefits to which the customer may be entitled
- sign the claim form instead of the person claiming benefits
- are responsible for telling the benefit office of any change in circumstances which may affect the amount the claimant gets
- must spend the benefit in the best interests of the customer – although it is paid to you, the benefit is not yours to spend on yourself
- can be responsible for any overpayments, if you knowingly provide wrong information
Applying to become an appointee
To apply to act as an appointee, you need to tell DfC that someone you know needs your help to either:
- claim benefit because they can’t do it themselves
- manage their existing benefit because they can’t do it themselves
Who to contact
- Attendance Allowance, contact the Disability and Carers Service
- Disability Living Allowance, contact the Disability and Carers Service
- State Pension, or Pension Credit contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre
- Bereavement Benefits, contact the Bereavement Service
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP), contact the PIP Centre
- all other benefits, contact your nearest Jobs and Benefits office
DfC will arrange to interview you and visit the customer. If they agree the customer needs help and you are suitable, you will be formally appointed to act on the customer’s behalf.
There is a different process for tax credits.
If you're acting as an appointee, any benefit payments will usually be made to you.
Alternatively, payments do not have to go into the appointee's account - they could go into an existing account belonging to the customer to which the appointee has access.
DfC will check your appointment regularly to make sure it's still the most suitable arrangement for you and the person you're an appointee for.
When an appointment ends
An appointment will end if it is proved:
- you are not acting in the best interests of the customer
- you no longer want to act as the appointee
- you or another person is appointed to act by a court of law
- the customer dies