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

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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

Lisa (not verified)

My autistic son has been

My autistic son has been receiving SSI for four years with me as his rep payee. I reimburse myself each month out of the rep payee account. Is this good enough? I don't have any other accounts in my son's name? I just keep a spreadsheet with his costs (with exceed the SSI amounts each month).

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 13:52 Permalink

In reply to by Lisa (not verified)

Hi Lisa,

Hi Lisa,

Good idea keeping a spreadsheet of all of this. It's very important to be organized and to keep everything tracked.

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 15:16 Permalink
Mac (not verified)

Can i qive my boys a

Can i qive my boys a allowance with the funds if they are current each week with there grades and have done there daily chores to help keep a safe clean house for the whole family

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:07 Permalink

In reply to by Mac (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
Potentially, but all SSI receipts need to be saved so you might want to just handle the payments yourself to ensure you don't lose the benefits.

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 11:23 Permalink
Mac (not verified)

Can i qive my boys a

Can i qive my boys a allowance with the funds if they are current each week with there grades and have done there daily chores to help keep a safe clean house for the whole family

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 09:28 Permalink
Tim C. (not verified)

My child is eligible for SSI

My child is eligible for SSI and wanted to get clarification on the "allowable" expense tracking of your listing as "Shelter". So can I take our Home Monthly Mortgage+Real Estate Taxes paid and allocate an equal share of that towards my child's expense? So for illustration: If my monthly paid amount is $3000 and we have 2 parents and 1 child, can we expense 3000/3= $1000/month towards my child's expense tracking?

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 22:55 Permalink
Teresa Ross (not verified)

If my child were to receive

If my child were to receive ssi benefits would her inheritance in a trust fund be effected or vice versa

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 23:53 Permalink

In reply to by Teresa Ross (not verified)

Hi Teresa,

Hi Teresa,

Her benefits may be affected because of that inheritance. SSI is based off of income and the SSA will consider that inheritance as apart of that income.

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 13:57 Permalink
AMO (not verified)

I have 2 yr old twins BOTH

I have 2 yr old twins BOTH are spwcial needs. 1 of them was recently approved for benefits the other is still pending. I was wondering.... I had heard that it could affect their chances of future things like attending college, full time job, etc.
Is this true?

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 21:11 Permalink
barry (not verified)

my sons mother has got him on

my sons mother has got him on ssi. i am disable now and have been approved for ssdi my son will get back pay like me and a check each month. can i get a audit in a years time to see how and where his money goes. her buying a new car or truck does not help my son. using his money each month to make payments. also can he collet ssi and my ssdi together?

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 21:48 Permalink
Shannon (not verified)

Hi, I have a child with

Hi, I have a child with Autism and we finally won his SSI case. My question is this.... My son loves legos and being autistic, he really concentrates on them and we feel it is a definite learning tool. Are we allowed to use retro pay on buying him a bunch of sets? Are they considered educational?

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 12:49 Permalink

In reply to by Shannon (not verified)

Hi Shannon,

Hi Shannon,

That should be okay to buy. Just make sure to keep track of what you spend that money on. And I know it's a pain, but it doesn't hurt to check in with the SSA before. Better safe than sorry.

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 16:43 Permalink
D (not verified)

Can a parent spend a kid

Can a parent spend a kid whole ssi check on rent,light,gas,water n food and only give the child a $100 a month for 3 yrs until they turn 18 and have nothing saved up for them going on with their life

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 11:31 Permalink
Celes (not verified)

Can money in a back pay

Can money in a back pay account be use towards purchase of a car if my old car broke down to transport the child back and forth to appointment if the child is disabled

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 20:54 Permalink
Bobby (not verified)

Can my sins mother spend his

Can my sins mother spend his money on 1100$ rent

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 16:11 Permalink
hi my Angie (not verified)

I have friends live right

I have friends live right next door of me and she get disability her self and two kids but landlord its her payee the landlord pay her bill she doesn't help her buy food or clothes children the landlord doesn't show bank statement she even know how much she getting for disability sometimes i help her cause being struggling alot..

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 11:50 Permalink

In reply to by hi my Angie (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

If she wants, she can be assigned a different payee. She would have to go to her local SSA office to do so.

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 16:28 Permalink
Audrey (not verified)

What percentage of a child&

What percentage of a child's ss disability check can be used for shelter

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 14:07 Permalink
Alisha (not verified)

My little sister started

My little sister started getting social security after our mom died in 2015 of cancer. Her dad, we have different fathers, has no backbone when it comes to her and she walks all over him. She will tell him that she needs the money and if he says no, she flips out on him, she just turned 14 by the way. Anyways, she goes and takes money out of the account or makes him give it to her by throwing tantrums until he does and then she buys $200 pairs of jeans and spends it on whatever else she wants. He told her, "I need it for bills to help keep the house and everything." and she says, "it's my money, you are stealing it from me." My question is, does she have the rights to the money that she thinks she does or is it supposed to be for her dad to take care of the house payment, clothes if she needs it, food, etc. I have tried telling her that that is what it's for but she insists she is entitled to it. It frustrates me because I was 18 when my mom died so I never got social security and don't think she needs to have it either, I think her dad should have it for bills such as the house payment, food, etc.

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 19:06 Permalink

In reply to by Alisha (not verified)

Hi Alisha,

Hi Alisha,

If she is receiving survivor's benefits, and does not have a disability of her own it is technically her payments.

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 16:31 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

As a minor at 16 years old I

As a minor at 16 years old I would like to know how much money I am receiving from social security to make sure my parent is not spending it selfishly while I go without. How can I find out?

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 21:52 Permalink
Margaret (not verified)

If my son gets ssi can I buy

If my son gets ssi can I buy a car ??

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 18:51 Permalink
Nikki Jensen (not verified)

So, can my child's death

So, can my child's death benefits be used for rent? Specially when the family is really struggling? Arnt they to make sure she has a warm house with, water, power and help with cloths, ect? She already has medicaid

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 11:55 Permalink
Ashley (not verified)

Can I use the back pay money

Can I use the back pay money to buy my daughter, who is getting SSI benefits, a laptop?

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 07:56 Permalink
TM (not verified)

I surrendered my Rep payee

I surrendered my Rep payee title to my ex-wife as part of a settlement. Prior to that we split the monthly benefit and half because our son lives with each parent 50% of the time. ( Week on and week off) He plays in special Olympic softball & Basketball, as well as other activities. She refuses to pay the registration fees from his account during the weeks that he's with me,thus he doesn't participate those weeks. Please advise.

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 16:31 Permalink

In reply to by TM (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

You might want to speak with your attorney to see regarding that. He might be able to help you the full time rep payee.

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 16:59 Permalink
Leonard (not verified)

My son was receiving SSI his

My son was receiving SSI his mom was the payee and for some reason she didn't get it no more recently she left me and our children for another. I applied for snap and they told me about checks he had that had been returned for 2 years so I called ssa man told me what to bring proof gaurdanship .I get there I get a lady she said she was terminating him and had to start all over.So he lost out on all that money can she really do that she said I should have known.i work I will support my children but that was his money for when he's older.Can I get that for him somehow?

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 20:54 Permalink

In reply to by Leonard (not verified)

Hi Leonard,

Hi Leonard,

That is tough. You can file try and file an appeal. I would do it as soon as possible. You should still receive the benefits while your appeal is occurring. Good luck!

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 15:58 Permalink
Alicia (not verified)

My son just got approved for

My son just got approved for SSI. We just got his back pay which is supposed to cover 5 months of payments however in the paperwork that came several days after the check it states that they are having to do installments with his back pay. I've read the rediculious book SS sent as well as the approval/breakdown paperwork and it literally has me with tons of questions. I've called but still haven't gotten a return call. Does his back pay go into a separate account? The book says if usually if it's more than six months. Back pay total is only for 5 months but they are doing it in installments so I'm confused. Also what can you use the monthly for exactly? In our state getting SSI qualifies you for Medicaid which is the big reason for us trying for it so we really don't have medical expenses for him.

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 10:34 Permalink

In reply to by Alicia (not verified)

Hi Alicia,

Hi Alicia,

Back pay sometimes does come in different installments depending on the amount. The money can be use for your son's medical treatments/expenses, educational expenses, any special equipment or assistance, etc.

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 15:55 Permalink
Tina (not verified)

If I just got fully awarded

If I just got fully awarded my SSI and SSDI and I have 2 younger children who will be receiving income from me what is there income called? Ssi or SSDI? Also, there going all the way back to 2014 so I will definitely including my kids have back pay if I need a rep payee do they too? One more thing they are requesting child support statements going back to when I did my appeal is that all going to be accountable income even though I was getting $52 week and now I get $65 a week. Please help! Ty

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 00:12 Permalink

In reply to by Tina (not verified)

Hi Tina,

Hi Tina,

Your children will be getting auxiliary benefits. They should receive back pay. If you have a representative payee, that is the person who your benefits go to as the SSA may find your disability too disabling to manage your own benefits, so your back pay will go into the account they will manage for you. SSI is based on income, which is most likely why they are asking for your child support statements.

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 16:26 Permalink
Debbie (not verified)

My step sons receive

My step sons receive disability benefits because their mother is disabled. My husband has custody of both of his sons. My question is does providing a cell phone a requirement under the payees monthly cost? Or is a cell phone a luxury? Just need clarification...thanks

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 23:20 Permalink

In reply to by Debbie (not verified)

Hi Debbie,

Hi Debbie,

While you may be able to spend auxiliary benefits on a cell phone, it is not a required to do so.

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 16:01 Permalink
Michael (not verified) name is Michael my son name is Michael my son just got approved for ssi I wanted to know if I can fix my car with that money because that's the car I take him to all his doctor appointment and to school and I wanted to know if it's fine to buy a kitchen table and. A bed and a computer for him for school

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:55 Permalink

In reply to by Michael (not verified)

Hi Michael,

Hi Michael,

Those should be okay, make sure to save any receipts or other proofs of payments. However, you might want to check in with the SSA first just to be absolutely sure. Better safe than sorry!

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 16:51 Permalink
Shanna (not verified)

Can you spend back pay on a

Can you spend back pay on a Mac book for your child education to take to high school with them, an can tutoring for the child as well be payed with back payments

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:11 Permalink

In reply to by Shanna (not verified)

Hi Shana,

Hi Shana,

It's possible, it is always best to double check with the SSA though to be sure. And if it is to make sure to save any receipts or other proofs of purchase.

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 16:59 Permalink
Anne (not verified)

If i save most of my childs

If i save most of my childs ssi for his future as an adult and he may have different needs. Would ss take it away?? Because they beleive he doesnt need it?

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 14:40 Permalink

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