Social Security has introduced a new feature to help you protect your benefits

If you are like most Americans, Social Security benefits will be one of your main sources of retirement income.

Protecting these benefits and using them wisely is essential, and the Social Security Administration has introduced a new online tool to make sure that happens, even if something happens to you. This is what it is and how it works.

Elderly woman sitting on the couch looking at the check.

Image source: Getty Images.

You can now designate a representative payee online

The new Social Security tool allows those who apply for Social Security benefits, and those who receive them, to designate a representative payee in advance. In fact, you have the opportunity to choose up to three people who could play this role.

A representative payee is someone who receives and manages your Social Security payments on your behalf if you cannot manage them yourself. A representative payee could be an individual or an organization. If you have not chosen someone, you will need to designate one for yourself if you cannot act on your own to manage your Social Security money.

Both capable adults and emancipated minors can now use the new Social Security tool to advance the designation of representative beneficiaries. And fOr for most people, it makes sense to select someone they trust to play this important role in case the worst happens and they need help managing their money. The new Social Security tool now makes it quick and easy. To do so, you can visit your my Social Security Account to complete your designation online, you can visit your local Social Security office, or you can apply by phone or mail.

When you designate a representative payee in advance, that person has no immediate control over your benefits. The designation of an advanced beneficiary does not confer power of attorney, so the chosen person does not have the authority to do anything immediately. And you have the option to make changes to your advanced designation over time if you want or need to change your beneficiary. You can also withdraw the advanced designation. And once you have chosen someone and notified Social Security, the agency will send you a notice each year with a list of the person or people you have selected so you don’t forget to make changes if you want.

All of this means that you will retain flexibility over time, bHowever, you will still be protected in the event of your future disability, since Social Security will know to whom you want to entrust your hard-earned benefits.

Act today to designate your representative payee

Thinking about becoming incapacitated and unable to manage your money is not fun, but it is necessary. ANDYou never know what can happen to you, especially as you get older.

If you cannot manage your money effectively on your own, it is best to ensure that you have personally chosen the person who will manage it on your behalf. Social Security has made it so much easier to do it, so if you are already receiving benefits, take action today to do it before it is too late.