Becoming an appointee for someone who claims benefits means you would have the legal right to deal with their claim. Once appointed, you will be able to manage their financial affairs – such as if the claimant is severely disabled or mentally incapable of doing so themselves.
The person appointed to act on behalf of someone claiming welfare benefits can be (either):
- An individual (e.g. a relative or a trusted friend)
- An organisation (e.g. the local council authority) or a representative of an organisation (e.g. a solicitor)
Note: A claimant with rights to benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can only have one (1) appointee acting for them.
Responsibilities of an Appointee
The appointee is responsible for filing and maintaining any claims made for welfare benefits, allowances, or grants. As a result, your duties will include:
- Signing the benefit claim form.
- Notifying the benefit office about any changes that are going to affect the amount of money the claimant gets.
- Receiving the payments on behalf of the claimant and then spending the money in their best interests.
- Informing the benefit office if you decide to end the appointeeship (e.g. if the claimant develops the ability to manage their own affairs).
In most cases, receiving a benefit overpayment would also fall under the appointee’s responsibilities. If it happens, you would need to pay it back to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Applying to Become Someone’s Appointee
In the first instance, you should apply to become an appointee for someone claiming benefits by telephone (depending on the actual benefit being claimed).
Hence, you will need to contact the Disability Service Centre (for Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance). You should contact your local pension centre for the State Pension and the new claims line for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
After You Apply to Become an Appointee
- The DWP will make arrangements to visit the claimant. The main purpose of the visit is to assess whether they actually need an appointee to handle their affairs.
- The next step is for the DWP to interview the applicant [you]. The aim of the interview is to ensure that you will make a suitable appointee.
- The interview also provides an opportunity for you and the interviewer to fill out Form BF56 (the appointee application form).
- You will receive Form BF57 if the DWP agrees to you becoming an appointee for someone claiming benefits. This particular form confirms that they have formally appointed you to act on behalf of the claimant.
You cannot act as someone’s appointee until you get Form BF57. Furthermore, the DWP will monitor the arrangement and situation once they authorise the appointeeship.
How to Stop being an Appointee
You should contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) without delay if you want to stop being someone’s appointee. You will find the phone number for the benefit office dealing with the claim on any letters that you received from them.
The DWP may decide to stop your appointment as an appointee if it becomes clear that the claimant can manage their own benefits, or if you:
- Fail to act in a proper manner according to the terms of the appointment.
- Become incapable of managing the claim yourself. In this case, you should inform the DWP about the situation without delay.