An appointee is someone who has been appointed to act on behalf of a person claiming benefits who cannot manage independently due to being ‘mentally incapable or severely impaired’.
Responsibilities of an appointee
Appointees have four specific responsibilities as outlined on the government website:
- Sign the benefit claim form.
- Tell the benefit office about any changes which affect how much the claimant gets.
- Spend the benefit (which is paid directly to you) in the claimant’s best interests.
- Tell the benefit office if you stop being the appointee, for example the claimant can now manage their own affairs.
Essentially, the appointee is responsibly for making and maintaining any benefit claims. This is where their responsibility ends. Unlike an LPA an appointee cannot access the person’s bank account, wider finances or manage their household.
Who can be an appointee?
An appointee can be anyone known to the person in question, such as a friend or relative, or even an organisation or representative of an organisation, such as the finance team at the place of residence or local authority.
Only one appointee can act on behalf of someone entitled to benefits.
How to apply
The application process to become an appointee varies based on the benefit provider. From which the DWP will:
- Visit the claimant to assess if an appointee is needed.
- Interview the applicant to check suitability.
- Jointly complete an appointee application form.
Once the application has been approved, the appointeeship will commence, and will then be monitored by the DWP.
A note of caution
While the role of an appointee does not strictly sit within the remit of the Mental Capacity Act, the Government website does imply that a Mental Capacity Assessment would be required for the decision of managing benefits on behalf of the claimant. The wording of responsibility #3 in particularly significant, as it states that an appointee should ‘spend the benefit […] in the claimant’s best interests’ [our emphasis].
As we know, ‘best interest’ is something that very clearly falls under the remit of the Mental Capacity Act. In this way then, the Government website seems to be suggesting that the MCA is indeed relevant to the appointeeship process, even if it does not state so directly.
Given the somewhat unclear language around the role of the appointee, we would always recommend that individuals seek a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or Court of Protection (CoP) Deputyship as appropriate. These are both well established roles in legislation and protect both the individual and the person acting on their behalf.