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Becoming an appointee

If you are worried about how well a friend or family member is managing their benefits, you can:

  • help them represent themselves
  • manage their benefits for them, as an appointee

Helping someone manage their benefits

If you have a friend or family member who is finding it hard to communicate with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they are entitled to reasonable adjustments, under the Equality Act 2010.

Asking for reasonable adjustments

You can contact the DWP on the person’s behalf to discuss how they can access these adjustments. The claimant needs to give permission. You need to contact the service for the benefit they are claiming or would like to claim.

Contacts for benefits

Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance: Disability Service Centre

State Pension: Pension Service

PIP: new claims line

All other benefits: Jobcentre Plus

Becoming an appointee

If you or the claimant find that reasonable adjustments are not enough for them to manage their own benefits, you can apply to become their appointee.

Become an appointee for someone claiming benefits (GOV.UK)

Once you are an appointee, you manage all the meetings and paperwork around someone’s benefits. There are separate processes for helping them manage their money directly, for example through Power of Attorney or deputyship.

Managing money for someone else

There is a separate process for dealing with someone’s tax credits. Tax credits are managed by the tax office (HMRC), not the DWP.

Claiming and dealing with tax credits for someone else (GOV.UK)

Who can be an appointee?

There can only be 1 appointee. This can be a person or an organisation.

A person

Any friend or family member can become an appointee. You need to be over 18 and have permission from the claimant’s next of kin, where this is appropriate.

Becoming someone’s appointee is an important responsibility. The processes can be long and complicated. You must make sure you manage all the application processes and reviews on behalf of the claimant. You can ask for adjustments if you need them.

An organisation

Social enterprises, law firms and some other organisations offer appointeeship services. Most places charge a fee.

How to apply for appointeeship

To apply for appointeeship, who you need to contact depends on the benefit they are claiming or want to claim.

If the claimant is getting more than 1 benefit, you can contact any of these departments. You can call them on the phone, or use textphone, Relay or British Sign Language (BSL) services.

Become an appointee for someone claiming benefits (GOV.UK)

When appointeeship is confirmed, it should apply to all DWP benefits. Appointeeship is reviewed every few years.

DWP visit

The DWP will visit the claimant to decide if the claimant needs an appointee. The Visiting Officer will also interview you to make sure you are a suitable appointee.

You will get a letter telling you when they are coming, explaining what they need to know. The letter will give the name of the Visiting Officer. Make sure you check their ID card when they visit.

During this visit, you will complete an application form. This will ask for details from you, including your National Insurance Number. It confirms that you understand the responsibilities of appointeeship and have permission from the claimant’s family, where relevant.

Warning DWP makes the decision

It is up to the DWP to decide whether the claimant needs an appointee, and whether you are suitable to be an appointee.

If the DWP agree to the application, it should send you a confirmation letter. You are not an appointee until you get this.

Spending the money

The claimant might spend their own money, or you might spend it for them. The benefit money must be spent on the claimant.

You need to keep detailed records to show how it is being spent.

You should make sure you or the claimant are spending their benefit money on things they need, as they need them. If benefit money is left to build up in their account, some benefit claims can be reduced or stopped.

You need to tell the DWP if the claimant has over £6,000 in their account.

  • £6,000 or more: benefit is reduced
  • £16,000 or more: benefit is stopped

Not all benefits are subject to these limits.

You can get benefits advice from:

Scope helpline

Find a local benefits adviser (Advicelocal)

Choosing a bank account

You can choose what bank account the claimant’s benefit is paid into.

Dedicated appointee account

Some banks offer dedicated accounts for DWP appointees. Having this kind of account means that:

  • claiming means-tested benefits for yourself is more straightforward
  • the claimant’s money is safe and accessible if you die

Ask your bank about what type of account they could offer you.

Claimant’s bank account

If the claimant struggles with benefit processes but can otherwise manage their own money, benefit money can go straight to their own account.

Joint bank account

Some people have benefits paid into a joint account. This means that both you and the claimant have access to the money. You can set up a new joint account or 1 you already have.

If you are claiming your own means-tested benefits, you might have to show that the claimant’s benefit is not your own income. This can be complicated.

Using a joint account can also make it harder to show records of how the claimant’s money is being spent.

Your personal account

If the claimant’s benefit is paid into an account that is only in your name, the appointee, you will still need to keep records to show you are spending it properly and prove that it is not your own money. You need to manage this properly so your own benefits are not affected.

If you die, your personal account will be frozen and the claimant will have no access to their money. This can cause serious problems. Think about this when you are planning for emergencies.

Planning for emergencies (Carers UK)

Assessments and tribunals

Once you are an appointee, you manage everything to do with the person’s benefits. This means you need to go to all assessments and tribunals. You can go to most of these appointments on your own.

Only bring the claimant if:

  • the DWP needs to do a medical assessment
  • the claimant would like to go

Last reviewed by Scope on: 05/07/2022

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