Planning for Your Future
For retirees and annuitants, there are several avenues for allowing a loved one or other trusted individual assist you with your account. These avenues are called "third-party representatives" and fall into two categories, either non-pay-related or pay-related representation.
Non-Pay-Related versus Pay-Related Representation
A third-party representative (TPR) who is granted non-pay-related authority cannot make changes to retiree or annuitant payments from DFAS. The TPR can only assist the retiree or annuitant in matters such as correspondence address changes, issuing account statements, issuing W-2 or 1099-R forms, or completing and signing an annuity application. The TPR has the authority only so long as the retiree or annuitant is not incapacitated. Should the retiree or annuitant become incapacitated, the authority ends.
The term "pay-related" refers to the authority of a third-party representative (TPR) to control and make changes to the banking information associated with the retiree or annuitant account at DFAS. This is the most significant authority that can be delegated to a TPR and is allowed only when the retiree or annuitant is incapable of handling his or her own affairs; that is, when they are deemed incapacitated.
In almost all instances, the granting of authority to make pay-related changes also allows the TPR to make other changes to the account, as well, including all non-pay-related changes. So, a third party who is granted pay-related authority will have blanket authority over all matters connected with the account.
Specific Types of Third-Party Representation
General Power of Attorney (Retirees and Annuitants)
A General Power of Attorney (GPOA) allows a third party the authority to make non-pay-related changes. The retiree or annuitant cannot be incapacitated and must sign a Power of Attorney document appointing the agent. No medical evaluation is needed.
Guardianship (Retirees and Annuitants)
A guardianship must be court-ordered, and it grants authority outlined in a guardianship document to a guardian. In most cases, the guardian is given full authority over all of the retiree's or annuitant's affairs, which would include their account at DFAS. A guardianship takes precedence over any other third-party representation on file at DFAS.
Durable Power of Attorney (Retirees only)
A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a newly-authorized third-party representation for retired pay, and currently only applies to retirees. The authority granted to the third party, usually called an agent, is stated in a Durable Power of Attorney document and includes the ability to make pay-related changes to the retiree account. The retiree must sign the DPOA document and appoint the agent. A DPOA is effective only if the retiree becomes incapacitated. Evidence of incapacitation is needed in the form of a medical statement signed by a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Psychiatrist.
Trusteeship (Retirees only)
A trusteeship is a third-party representation granting pay-related authority to a trustee on behalf of an incapacitated retiree who has neither a guardian nor an agent for a Durable Power of Attorney. A medical statement of incapacity is required. The trustee is appointed by DFAS. Trustees are required to post a bond and provide an annual report to DFAS.
Representative Payee (Annuitants only)
A representative payee, or "rep payee" is a TPR 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's account at DFAS. A medical statement of incapacity is required. The rep payee is appointed by DFAS, not by the annuitant.