How Should a Representative Payee Spend a Child's SSI Benefits?

Submitted by Daniel on

Today we will be addressing a question that came to us through our interactive disability forum. If you have a question regarding any part of the Social Security Disability application process, leave it in the comment section below so that we can answer it in a future blog post. Today’s question is:

How should a representative payee spend a child's SSI benefits?

As the representative payee for your child’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, you are responsible for using the funds appropriately and for keeping accurate records of how the payments are spent.

Standard monthly benefit payments can be managed and used in certain ways, while significant back payments of retroactive benefits must be handled differently.

Dedicated Accounts for SSI Back Payments

If your child has recently been approved for SSI and is due a large back payment of benefits, then you will be required to open a dedicated bank account for the funds and the use of those funds will be subject to very specific restrictions.

  • The dedicated account must be a separate checking, savings, or money market account from the one that is used for standard monthly SSI benefits.
  • The funds in the account must be maintained separately from all other funds, including monthly benefit deposits from SSI.
  • The back payment funds cannot be used to purchase stocks, bonds, CDs, or any other form of secured or unsecured investment.
  • The account must be registered showing your child as the owner of the funds and any and all interest that may be accrued on the account.

Funds from your child’s dedicated account can be spent only on the following:

  • medical treatment and related expenses
  • educational expenses, including job and skills training costs
  • special equipment, skilled nursing assistance, home modification costs, and rehab or therapy expenses

Legal fees due to the attorney that assisted in your child’s SSI claim can also be paid from this account.

Regular Monthly Benefit Payments

Your child’s regular monthly SSI payments can be deposited into your standard savings, checking, or money market account, but you will still need to accurately track the manner in which those funds are spent and report that information to the SSA as required.

Monthly benefit payments can be spent on everyday living expenses and daily support needs. These can include any and all of the items listed under the authorized Dedicated Account spending, as well as the following:

  • food
  • clothing
  • shelter
  • insurance costs
  • medical care
  • child care expenses
  • furnishing
  • personal comfort items

Keep in mind that the above listed items can only be used for the child earning the benefits.

Any monthly benefits that are not needed to pay for your child’s current-month expenses must be saved for future use. Many people find the easiest method for keeping track of their child’s benefit balance and spending details is to have a separate checking and/or savings account specifically for monthly SSI payments.

Periodic Spending Checks

The SSA conducts periodic checks on the spending practices of representative payees. Typically these reviews happen once a year. However, the SSA may require reporting as often as every three months for the duration of your child’s SSI eligibility.

If you aren’t sure if you are spending your child’s benefit payments correctly, you should contact the SSA representative who handles his or her claim. If a child’s payments are spent incorrectly, the representative payee may be required to reimburse any funds that were misused.

Please leave any Social Security Disability questions in the comment section below so that we can answer them in a future blog post!

Blog comments

James Vaccaro (not verified)

Can the SS payments for a

Can the SS payments for a minor whose parent is disabled be invested or does it have to just stay in a bank account.

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:31 Permalink
Tamika curtis (not verified)

Hi I have a question I am my

Hi I have a question I am my daughters representative payee and I have only one vehicle to transport her in and I was wondering if I was able to use her money to get car parts for my vehicle so I can safely transport her around in the vehicle

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 14:06 Permalink
Todd Williamsen (not verified)

My wife is receiving SSDI,

My wife is receiving SSDI, and our children are now receiving it, I do not as I have income above the requirements. Is there a list somewhere on what is approved to use the kid's funds on? SSDI website is vague at best and does not explain anything.
With today's low interest rates for savings, I wasn't sure if there is other options to invest it? We will probably barely use it.

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 14:03 Permalink

In reply to by Todd Williamsen (not verified)

HI Todd,

HI Todd,
If your wife is receiving SSDI benefits, then they may have different rules than SSI benefits. You may want to contact the SSA regarding this.

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 16:04 Permalink
Stephanie Burns (not verified)

My daughter was getting$ 730

My daughter was getting$ 730 for her disability and because I love move in with someone else they cut her check to 500 can they do that it really makes it hard on us to get by

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 11:46 Permalink

In reply to by Stephanie Burns (not verified)

Hi Stephanie,

Hi Stephanie,
The SSA may change a child's SSI benefits based on how much of the household expense that the SSA determines is your child's portion of the household expenses. A change in living situation can change your child's eligibility for benefits.

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:16 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Child got 14 years back pay

Child got 14 years back pay from her fathers social security, Funds were used for down payment on a home that her mother and step dad bought. Is that considered using the money on her daughter?

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:00 Permalink
Alfred (not verified)

I have 2 children that

I have 2 children that receive benefits on my behalf. Does that money need to be reported as household income?

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 21:44 Permalink
Amber jean (not verified)

Hello I am currently awaiting

Hello I am currently awaiting my disability back pay and I have a payee on my account it's my mother but I wanted to know if I can take her off she mistreats me mentally abuses me and she kicked me out of her house says she can't deal with me I am now living with a friend. Is there a way that I can stop her from misusing my money? She's already saying I owe her $2500 and I haven't even gotten the money yet.

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 15:17 Permalink
Wendy B (not verified)

My son just got his medical

My son just got his medical approval for SSI benefits (were going through the financial evaluation process now) he is ADHD, ODD, with severe impulse issues. He is 13 and got a dog for Christmas. I was wondering if anyone knows would maintenance (vet/feeding/pest control/whistle3 tracker payment) for the dog be considered an expense for my son. We decided to allow him the dog after consulting with his teachers and therapist that agreed it would be good for him. and it has been 100%. He is learning responsibility, caring of others feelings and space, compassion, and companionship. These lessons through the process of having his own dog are priceless. So far I have been paying for everything and my expenses are shot. Would it be unrealistic to use part of his benefits to provide for this now vital part of his life? Also he has been angry with me that I don't allow him to earn an allowance, I'm broke I just cant afford it, am I allowed to give him a small allowance from the benefits? Thanks for the help <3

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 16:32 Permalink
Karina (not verified)

Can I take money from my son&

Can I take money from my son's ssi benefits to help pay the rent?

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 18:39 Permalink
Andy (not verified)

I'm retired and my son

I'm retired and my son receive ss benefits for that reason, how his representative payee I had some money saved for him, but I spend the money for a necesity. Mi question is if I can make a payment agreement with the ss because I can't pay the money back all together.

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 15:07 Permalink

In reply to by Andy (not verified)

Hi Andy,

Hi Andy,
If your child receives benefits based off of your work record and the SSA does not inform you that he received an overpayment, you may not need to pay anything back.

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 15:21 Permalink
Jay (not verified)

My wife gets SSI for my son

My wife gets SSI for my son and I just found out she hid this from me. What should I do

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 23:46 Permalink
T (not verified)

I know some one who has a

I know some one who has a daughter on ssi and spent all the back pay on 700 dollar when on shoe and clothes but she also bought 3 tablet for all her children. She also brought the other children clothes and got their hair done. She just brought a washer. She did save any back pay or monthly payments either. She did get an account for back pay. Can you spend benefits on monthly household bill like rent water electric and cable? Can you use this money
for other children needs?

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 08:44 Permalink

In reply to by T (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

Yes, you should be able to do that. You should always double check with the SSAs before though just to be safe.

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 09:36 Permalink
Becky (not verified)

Rent receipts

Rent receipts
Swim lessons
Receipts for all clothing
McDonald’s (he eats it almost everyday, ff and sausage patties, he has sensory issues w/food)
- is it fair to include electrical/ gas / and other bills?

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 16:41 Permalink

In reply to by Becky (not verified)

Hi Becky,

Hi Becky,

I would recommend speaking with a SSA representative regarding that. It's always best to double check with them just to be sure.

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 17:03 Permalink
Joey (not verified)

Im on ssd and i get my

Im on ssd and i get my benefits and i have a son and am divorced so the money i get from ssd for my son goes into his mothers account and i have 50% custody the problem is she isnt spending the money on him he needs shoes and she said she didnt have any money but she just financed a new truck with a 600 and something a month payment and she doesn't have that great of a job so what should i do just need some advice sorry if i miss spelled anything just upset

Sat, 01/27/2018 - 20:32 Permalink

In reply to by Joey (not verified)

Hi Joey,

Hi Joey,
You may want to contact the SSA regarding this as they can re-assign payees if the representative payee is not able to use the funds for the beneficiary.

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 09:25 Permalink
Deb (not verified)

Can back pay for our child

Can back pay for our child (dad is disabled) be put into an ESA?

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 13:11 Permalink

In reply to by Deb (not verified)

Hi Deb,

Hi Deb,
If the child is receiving benefits based off of the father's work record, then those funds may not be subject to SSI rules. You may want to contact the SSA regarding this.

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 09:26 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I live with my aunt. I&#039

I live with my aunt. I've been living with her since my mother passed. I recently found out that she was receiving these benefits for me and I was very curious as to why she didn't tell me about these benefits. I am 17 years old and I am still in high school next year will be my last year in high school. I would like to know if I can get my benefits in my name instead of hers because I feel as if she has been misusing them and keeping secrets from me.

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 19:06 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi thee,

Hi thee,
You may want to contact the SSA regarding this, they can re-assign a payee, and you may be eligible for SSI benefits after age 18 based on your own income and resources.

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 15:56 Permalink
Maria (not verified)

I am the payee to my

I am the payee to my grandsons account and recently closed it due to none complyment on my grandsons behalf but still receiving the benefits to my account can that money still be used in the house even if the case is not fully shut down

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 06:39 Permalink

In reply to by Maria (not verified)

Hi Maria,

Hi Maria,
You may want to hold onto those funds in case the SSA determines that your grandson was not eligible for benefits and would ask for those benefits to be returned.

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 12:09 Permalink
Lilbit (not verified)

I know a woman that has 2

I know a woman that has 2 children 1st one is getting social security from her father and she received over 8 thousand dollars on back pay then the other child started receiving SSDI and got a 4000 back pay there mother spent every penny of it. Nothing to show for the money. She doesn't work so she uses the kids money to pay for the bills now. Was this illegal on her behalf?

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 20:10 Permalink

In reply to by Lilbit (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

I can't say for sure, but if you call the SSA's fraud hotline, you can leave an anonymous report.

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 15:19 Permalink
matt (not verified)

Is paying shelter to the

Is paying shelter to the parents considered income to the parent.

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 10:36 Permalink
kathy (not verified)

how do you find out how much

how do you find out how much you should spend on your sons housing and food. he just started receiving a ss check from his deceased father. his now step father wants to use on food and housing to help out. we are a family of 4 and my son is almost 6

Sat, 02/10/2018 - 18:44 Permalink

In reply to by kathy (not verified)

Hi Kathy,

Hi Kathy,

You can always ask a SSA representative. And you should always remember to keep track of everything you spend using that money as well.

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:09 Permalink
Sarah (not verified)

My child got backpay and

My child got backpay and wants to take a family vacation. Can her backpay be used for that?

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:47 Permalink

In reply to by Sarah (not verified)

Hey Sarah,

Hey Sarah,

It should be okay, but you should double check with the SSA just in case. Better safe than sorry!

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:07 Permalink
Bianca (not verified)

My ex-husband started

My ex-husband started receiving SSI benefits last Fall and my son was eligible for dependent benefits. Our son was 17 at the time so the $ was going to my ex's account, but my son has since turned 18. My ex is using my son's $ to pay his share of our joint bills. When my son has had educational expenses, my ex wants to split the cost with me instead of using the $ allocated from SSI. Also, my ex us using my son's $ to pay his bills. Can I request that my son's $ be put in a separate account that my 18-year-old son is responsible for - instead of the $ going to my ex like it is now?

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:58 Permalink

In reply to by Bianca (not verified)

Hi Bianca,

Hi Bianca,
Actually children of SSI recipients are not eligible for additional benefits--are you sure your ex isn't receiving SSDI? You can go to your local SSA office to fill out paperwork to receive the payments yourself.

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 11:22 Permalink
David (not verified)

Sorry for long post.I have a

Sorry for long post.I have a question, Im on ssi for and so is my my dad and mother so 3 people in total, mother being my payee. I rarely see any of my money and my dad gives her a majority of his whenever i even ask about my ssi im blantedly accused of accusing her of stealing it and denied money. I didnt even know at the time i qualified for ssi they just told me to go and act like i normally do. All i want to know is if she is using me and dad for more ssi money on top of her own ssi. This has been going on for almost 10 years now

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 10:14 Permalink

In reply to by David (not verified)

Hi David,

Hi David,
I am very sorry to hear that! If you have another payee in mind, you can visit your closest SSA office to become the payee.

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 11:22 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

My mother collected SSI

My mother collected SSI benefits illegally for me when I was 2yrs old and diagnosed with luekimia by saying that I was terminally ill. She handled all of the finances including my SSI. Now that I'm almost an adult I found out that even after I went I to remission she collected SSI on my behalf. Now will that debt be put on to me as an adult?

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 16:29 Permalink
Kel (not verified)

If my child receives

If my child receives auxiliary benefits from his father but is in temp custody of someone else for a short period can we still get his benefits of there used on him and have proof of it

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 19:12 Permalink

In reply to by Kel (not verified)

Hi Kel,

Hi Kel,

It's possible, but you should check with someone at the SSA regarding that.

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 15:35 Permalink

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