Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

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In February 2017, the House of Representatives voted to “overturn an Obama administration rule” that required the Social Security Administration to “forward the names of all Social Security Disability Insurance . . . benefit recipients who use a representative payee . . . to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System . . ..

Reaction sadly was over-the-top and exaggerated as some gun safety advocates characterized the vote as the House permitting “severely mentally ill” people from getting guns and will make Americans less safe.


The Obama Administration required the Social Security Administration to send the records of Social Security Disability (SSDI) recipients who need a representative payee to the FBI for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  This meant these particular SSDI or SSI recipients were deprived of their right to purchase a firearm.

What’s a Representative Payee?

Individuals are required to have a representative payee for mental impairments when a beneficiary is “legally incompetent or mentally incapable of managing benefit payments.”  An injured and disabled worker who has difficulties remembering deadlines, properly doing math, or any other significant inability to spend their SSDI benefit properly may be required to have a representative payee even if his or her disability has nothing to do with a mental impairment.

Having a Representative Payee does not mean that your inability to mange finances is because a disabled worker is violent, or poses a risk to themselves or to others.

Because of the myriad of impairments that could require a representative payee, even the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) spoke out against the rule, saying “A disability should not constitute grounds for the automatic per se denial of any right or privilege, including gun ownership.”  Republican House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte opposed the rule because “it paints all those who suffer from mental disorders with the same broad brush.”

Congress has now revoked that rule.


Because of this vote, if you are awarded Social Security Disability benefits, SSDI or SSI, and have the need for a Representative Payee – the Social Security Administration will no longer automatically report you to the NICS.

Have Questions?

Navigating the Social Security Disability process is not always easy.  Circumstances are always changing, and we are happy to answer questions and help navigate the process.  Email – Tre Eyden, EDPNA, or call 970-356-9898.

The Federal Government Shutdown and Social Security

Social Security Blog

Due to the Federal Government Shutdown which began today, the Social Security Administration has made available its plan for operating during the shutdown. Out of SSA’s 62,343 employees, 18,006 will be furloughed. Most of the furloughed employees work in SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The ODAR offices plan to proceed with the hearings which are already scheduled but they are currently not scheduling any new hearing. I spoke to a staff person at an ODAR office this morning and she said that she was the only support staff working there with the Administrative Law Judges and she had just been answering the phone all morning and had not had a chance to do any other work. An Administrative Law Judges even called me today to confirm a schedule change!

According to the Social Security Administration’s website, the SSA field offices can:

  • Help you apply for benefits
  • Assist you in requesting an appeal
  • Change your address or direct deposit information
  • Accept reports of death
  • Verify or change your citizenship status
  • Replace a lost or missing Social Security payment
  • Issue a critical payment
  • Change a representative payee
  • Process a change in your living arrangement or income (SSI recipients only)
  • The SSA field offices cannot:
  • Issue new or replacement Social Security cards
  • Replace your Medicare card
  • Issue a proof of income letter

Additional information about Social Security’s operating plan can be found here.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep updating our information.