Powers of Attorney/Third Party Representatives for Annuitants
Many states let a Power of Attorney (POA) handle another person’s finances or other legal paperwork regardless of that person’s competency. These state laws often conflict with federal laws. Military retirement and annuities fall under federal law, which takes priority over state law.
DFAS has several avenues for allowing a loved one or trusted individual to help with an annuitant's account. These avenues are called “third-party representation” and they fall into two categories, either non-pay-related or pay-related representation.
Please note: The below third-party representation options apply to adult annuitants only. There are different options for minor or incapacitated child annuitants.
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Guardians/Legal Representatives of Annuitants: We are working to simplify the process of verifying continuing eligibility for Survivor Benefit Plan annuitants. The newest change reduces the number of annuitants who need to submit a Report of Existence (ROE). Now, the only annuitants who need to submit an ROE are those who receive a paper check to a foreign address. Previously, the legal representatives for all incapacitated annuitants were required to submit an ROE twice each year. There is a new overview and a downloadable PDF fact sheet of the eligibility verification requirements for annuitants on our “Manage Your SBP Annuity” webpage. We hope this information will help our customers better understand their role in keeping their annuity accounts current.
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Non-Pay-Related versus Pay-Related Representation
Non-Pay-Related (e.g., General Power of Attorney)
A third-party representative (e.g., General Power of Attorney) who is granted non-pay-related authority cannot make changes to annuitant payments (banking information) from DFAS. The representative may assist the retiree in many other matters, such as:
Correspondence address changes
Issuing account statements and 1099 forms
Completing reports of existence
Completing and signing annuity applications
Requests for copies of documents
Obtaining account information protected by the Privacy Act of 1974
A third-party representative with pay-related authority can control and make changes to the banking and pay information for the annuitant account at DFAS.
They can also make non-pay-related changes.
Below is a table summarizing the types of third party representation and the requirements.
Third-Party Representative Type
|General Power of
|Non pay-related matters only;
terminates upon incapacity
|Medical statement and
|Court order signed
by a judge
Specific Types of Third-Party Representation
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney (GPOA) allows a third party to make non-pay-related changes. The annuitant cannot be incapacitated and must sign a Power of Attorney document appointing the agent. No medical evaluation is needed.
A Representative Payee, or “rep payee” is recognized for annuitants only. It is similar in scope to a Durable Power of Attorney for retirees, and includes the ability to make pay-related changes to the annuitant account at DFAS.
A medical statement signed by a physician and a Representative Payee Certification form are required. The medical statement must state that the annuitant is incapable of handling their own affairs.
The rep payee is appointed by DFAS, not by the annuitant. DFAS will appoint a Rep Payee according to an order of preference, with spouse being most preferred, followed by son or daughter, brother or sister, parents, head of federal or state institution, trustee, and finally any other individual whose appointment appears to be in the annuitant’s best interest.
DFAS Form 9415 (Representative Payee Certification) may be used to request a rep payee authority. Download the DFAS Form 9415 along with helpful tools to complete your form. We also have a Form Wizard for the DFAS Form 9415 that can assist you in filling out the form correctly. Find it on our Forms page here.
A guardianship is based on an order of a court appointing a guardian for the annuitant’s estate or property, which would encompass the annuitant’s account at DFAS. A guardianship requires a certified copy of the court order, signed by a judge, bearing the seal of the court and showing the appointment of the guardian. A guardianship takes precedence over any other third-party representation on file at DFAS.
Note: The information on this website is provided to explain typical situations regarding retiree and annuitant benefits. For details and exceptions, please see applicable laws, financial management regulations, and instructions.
Page last updated February 17, 2023