Perceptions of Beneficiaries with Mental Illness and Family Representative Payees Regarding Satisfaction and Challenges

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by Travis Labrum, University of Pittsburgh

Approximately 2.7 million adults with schizophrenia, other psychotic disorders, or mood disorders receive benefits through Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and/or Supplemental Security Income. Approximately 700,000 said persons have their benefits managed by representative payees—most often parents and other family members. Representative payeeship is associated with several positive outcomes; however, some beneficiaries with mental illness report low levels of satisfaction with representative payeeship and conflicts are often experienced between beneficiaries and representative payees. This study proposes to conduct in-depth interviews of beneficiaries with mental illness who currently have family representative payees (n = 20) and family representative payees for this population (n = 20). Utilizing the qualitative descriptive method and thematic analysis, we will analyze the perspectives of participants related to satisfaction with representative payeeship (either as recipients or providers) and conflict experienced in representative payeeship. Through examining perceptions of participants regarding these topics and explicitly exploring recommendations for how the Social Security Administration can improve satisfaction and prevent conflict, this study will offer valuable insights for improving representative payeeship delivered by the most common providers: family members.

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