Dear Ms. Joy,
Ref: a. Your answer above 9/22/2013 7:02 PM EST
b. Handbook for Guardians and Conservators a practical guide to New Mexico law Revision 2007 (Manual is the property of the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General). www.guardianshipnm.org.
c. Guardianship Alliance New Mexico GuardianshipAllianceNM.org.
A person is the court appointed Guardian and Conservator. He is also the SSA Representative Payee for an incapacitated adult residing in New Mexico.
Guidelines concerning Guardians and Conservators from many states, including New Mexico, the residence of the ward, provide the following:
a. "A guardian is entitled to reasonable fees for his or her services. ... If you are also the conservator, you pay yourself; otherwise the conservator, if any, will pay you. ... For example, if your ward receives only Social Security as income and must spend most of that on shelter care, your fees will be low." Ref b. p.22.
b. "You can pay yourself a reasonable fee for serving as conservator. What is reasonable depends on what you are paid to do." Ref b. p. 56.
c. "You can be named guardian even if you do not live in the same town, county, or even state as your ward. ... * Visit your ward from time to time; you may be able to get your travel expenses reimbursed from your ward's assets." Ref b. pp 11 & 12.
The ward receives only SSA as income.
It is clear that a Representative Payee (RP) is not entitled to any fees (SSA regulations) or reimbursement for travel to visit a ward because the RP handles only the bill paying, not the caregiving.
However, if the RP is also the conservator and guardian, with caregiving and decision making responsibilities, guidelines in references b. and c. allow for him (her) to receive reasonable fees for services and, it seems, some travel reimbursement from the ward's funds in those latter roles. These 3 roles and their differing responsibilities should be able to be distinctly separated primarily because the RP only pays bills and provides annual reports to the SSA on the use of SS funds. Conservators and guardians, in particular, have many other responsibilities frequently involving considerable time and effort.
This raises the question: Can a person who is the guardian and conservator be paid fees for service and receive some reimbursement for travel from the ward's funds to visit the ward in the performance of his (her) duties in these roles, even though he (she) is simultaneously the SSA RP who would not be authorized any payment from the ward's funds for that specific RP role?