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


In reply to by Marie (not verified)

Hi Marie,

Hi Marie,
You may want to attempt to collect that money from your ex, you may be able to open a savings account for your child as SSDI benefits come with fewer restrictions on how those benefits can be spent.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 13:21 Permalink
Jennifer (not verified)

I was wanting to know if I am

I was wanting to know if I am the payee for my daughter and she receives ssi am I able to use it partially for rent? We live in with my sister and she has never asked for help but now that my daughter receives monthly benefits I believe she will expect some sort of help. Which is perfectly understandable.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 16:11 Permalink

In reply to by Jennifer (not verified)

Hi Jennifer,

Hi Jennifer,
you may be able to, however it's a good idea to contact the SSA to determine how much you would be able to use toward rent.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 17:09 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I receive SSI for my daughter

I receive SSI for my daughter who is now 11. I pay bills with it like rent gas water and electric. Am I using it wrong?

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 16:51 Permalink
Kim (not verified)

Can your child have a

Can your child have a representative payee if he is over 18? And if he is an adult, do we still need to keep receipts to show how his SSI is spent? For example, he will be paying us rent, part of our electric/gas/water, part of our food, his phone bill, etc, but if that doesn't use up all of his monthly allowance, can he save it for a bigger purchase he wants to make or for Christmas/birthday gifts for his sibs, or for whatever?

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:42 Permalink
Eve (not verified)

Hello. My child just received

Hello. My child just received his first ssi check. Can I deposit into my bank account or do I need to open a separate acoount under my son’s name?

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 17:03 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Does SSA check bank accounts

Does SSA check bank accounts and expenditure spending...
Like, when you make a purchase and send in the receipt do they call and check the orders.

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 19:01 Permalink
Me (not verified)

In reply to by Bryan

I know they ask for receipts

I know they ask for receipts and such but say if you are approved for a purchase and u make that purchase do they call where you made the purchase to make sure of it

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 13:33 Permalink

In reply to by Me (not verified)



I really can't say for sure if they do that. Just make sure to keep all the receipts for purchases you do make.

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 09:49 Permalink
Lexi (not verified)

Hello my son has been

Hello my son has been receiving a disability check and I have a CPS case he is with my mom but I have him every weekend and he will be home for good Dec 23 but SSC office doesn't know this but they are asking for December pay back what do I do I didn't know this I've spent almost have on my son and his needs ,I'm so worried.

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 12:46 Permalink

In reply to by Lexi (not verified)

Hi Lexi,

Hi Lexi,
You may want to contact them regarding this with documentation as to how you used the money (receipts, ect). You may not have been eligible to receive money for your son if you were not eligible to be a payee during the time he was not in your custody.

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:27 Permalink
Claire hagan (not verified)

My father used my ssi after

My father used my ssi after he sent me to a girls home for dinner dates with his girlfriend and for other stuff. While I was in the girls home he never sent me anything. Is there anything I can do like taking him to court? He never saved any of it for me.

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 21:11 Permalink
Janel (not verified)

My son has received

My son has received disability payment from his father since he was 2.
90% of his life I was a single parent and received the disability payment that ,then was $ other help financially was given by his dad .
He to this day 12 years later pays no child support and runs a business through EBay online .most likely getting played under the table so he can still collect disability. With cost of living and so forth , my child's payment increased to the amount of $140.00 .
This is helpful but no where near the costs of a 14 yr old boy who is in growing non stop and in sports year round.
His dad has never given me personally a dime to help with his daily needs. Instead buys him unnessasary items like collectable sports items, play stations 2, 3, and now 4 .games and Google play cards for his ps4. Accationally buys him a pair of shoes or something .
My question is, why isn't he required to pay child support? He also has lived with his girlfriend who works and pays their rent ECT. Is he allowed to make extra income online .not report it and not pay child support?
Thank you janel.

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 13:30 Permalink

In reply to by Janel (not verified)

Hi Janel,

Hi Janel,
You would need to contact the office in your state that handles child support, as they would have detailed information about his obligations in regards to child support.

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 16:58 Permalink
Carol Tibben (not verified)

Can Social Security benefits

Can Social Security benefits be usd by the recipient to purchase Christmas or birthday presents for family members?

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 13:24 Permalink
Bj (not verified)

My kids father receives

My kids father receives disability.. I dropped all his back child support to help him out. He told me the kids would still get a check that he had to say the kids lived with him. He told me to open an account for them and I did but it has been a year now and the kids still have nothing. I went to the social security office and they couldn't tell me much but they did say that he is the payee and the kids live with me. What do I do? How can I check for my self?

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 17:16 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Bj (not verified)

I really wanna know.. that

I really wanna know.. that when I dropped all my kids fathers rear child support to help him out cause he told me he would get nothing paying me and his other child's. And that he wanted to get his license back. So he was 17,000 dollars in the rear and I was gonna get so much and each of my kids would also get 10 percent of it. I dropped it all does that mean my kids won't see there half? I'm just so upset cause he did nothing to better his life for the kids and I would of done so much for our kids with that money.. I feel like I made a mistake and now I can't press him for child support cause he is on SSI and not SSDI anymore.. So when he tells me he has to say the kids live with him in order for them to collect off his disability I don't know if I should believe them and I don't wanna hurt the kids having a chance to receive some kid of help from there father finally.. he has never helped pay for anything, always was on drugs. Then when I thought he changed and asked for my help and asked me to drop it I did cause the kids was asking me to drop it so he could get his license and a car to get them.. it's was all a lie.

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 01:36 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
You may want to consult your states laws regarding child support as they can vary.

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 15:21 Permalink
Jay (not verified)

what do they mean when they

what do they mean when they say shelter on the list of things you can use the SSI on? Because I'm curious if someone should be using their child's SSI to pay their family household bills!!

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 09:01 Permalink
Bj (not verified)

In reply to by Jay (not verified)

The father is telling me that

The father is telling me that I have to say the kids live with him for them to receive SSI from him.But I told social security the truth that they live with me and they said it doesn't matter who has custody that it's who the kids live with that should be there payee.. I told the father this and he said the kids would get less money now. What exactly is the payee? Is he trying to get more money this way saying he is the payee? I been nice but the kids have been waiting to long and he moved out of state.

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 00:52 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If a child's parent dies

If a child's parent dies and they are entitled to survivors benefits, is it possible for the surviving parent to save all SSI checks for their child in a savings account and give them the funds when they are older (18 or older) so that they may use the funds for things they need at that time?

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:52 Permalink
Cayla (not verified)

Can backpay br spent on a new

Can backpay br spent on a new rental and monthly check on a car payment?

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 17:51 Permalink
Kevin (not verified)

My child's mother is

My child's mother is trying to spend some of her money on Christmas gifts is that okay.

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 17:52 Permalink

In reply to by Kevin (not verified)

HI Kevin,

HI Kevin,
It may be, but if you're in doubt, you should contact a local SSA office regarding this.

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 12:03 Permalink
Scott (not verified)

Hi I been saving my child’s

Hi I been saving my child’s disability money in my bank if he needs anything I get it for him and only him but save ings have gone up a lot do they take into account he’s money on houseing benefits of council tax or can they not tuch his money

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 08:39 Permalink
Ambriel (not verified)

Do I have to report what I

Do I have to report what I use the ssi money for, if so how?

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 14:11 Permalink
Beth (not verified)

I am my children's

I am my children's representative for SSI payments they get from their dad and we are divorced. Can I pay my mortgage with the children's SSI that they are receiving?

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 08:05 Permalink

In reply to by Beth (not verified)

Hi Beth,

Hi Beth,
If they receive those benefits based off of your ex's work record, you may be able to do so, but it's a good idea to contact the SSA about using funds if you're unsure about what you can do with them.

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 12:17 Permalink
Pappy (not verified)

There is no way you can take

There is no way you can take on extra children in your home and not easily spend the money on extra expenses. I have 3 grandchildren and get $1,100 for all 3. There is no way I don't spend this in food, clothes, extra premiums on medical insurance, giving them spending money, utilities, entertainment, etc. I think it is ridiculous to expect us to track how we spend the money. I hand them money all the time and I don't track it and will not because it is impossible to do so. SS is happy just being general, like I spend the money on my mortgage, food, clothes, medical, and other miscellaneous items. Maybe they are more concerned with the people who gets much more than I get.

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 13:59 Permalink

In reply to by Pappy (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
It really depends on what benefit that the children receive, SSI is more restrictive that SSDI auxiliary benefits.

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 12:28 Permalink
Tammy (not verified)

I have a question how hard is

I have a question how hard is it to change your child’s case worker my son’s not mine biologically he’s my great nephew I have had Gaurdianship of him since he was born he’s 8 now is very rude and is upset because I haven’t fully adopted him and last week after I done the interview she dated his award letter for next week the 26th so I would have to wait until after Christmas to get the checking account for his back pay well I wasn’t sure I’d be in town to wait for it or wasn’t sure how the weather would be so I went to the office and got a letter to go ahead and open the account while the weather was nice and when I went back to turn in the paperwork she just happened to be the one to help me and was upset because I didn’t wait for her to mail the letter next week I feel like it shouldn’t matter as long as it gets done but she wasn’t happy about it any suggestions she also tells me one thing and then another person from Ssi tells me another when I called and asked why it changes from person to person they said it all depends on case worker

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 09:37 Permalink

In reply to by Tammy (not verified)

HI there,

HI there,
You may want to contact the office and ask for a reassigned caseworker if you feel you are being treated unfairly.

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 09:38 Permalink
Laura (not verified)

My son was rewarded with a

My son was rewarded with a large back pay. I have yo get a dedicated account for him. My question is can I use some of that towards a down payment for a house. Where i live is alot of crime and forbid him going outside to play. I want to have a yard and a safe place to do yard work ,planting plants or just playing some baseball?

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 22:11 Permalink

In reply to by Laura (not verified)

Hi Laura,

Hi Laura,
It's possible but it's a little trickier to spend back pay--I'd ask the SSA rep who handles your son's case.

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 15:43 Permalink
Jenna (not verified)

My daughter just started

My daughter just started receiving SSI and I am her rep payee. There are 3 people in our household so she could pay 1/3 of things like utilities? What about reimbursing me for mileage to and from her doctor appointments?

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 11:57 Permalink
William (not verified)

A child is on ssi cant drive

A child is on ssi cant drive or have a drivers license. Child got a $6000 inheritance spent 2000 on his mom a car so they could get groceries and dr appts car in mothers name ssi saying she has to pay him back is this true.

Sun, 12/31/2017 - 09:43 Permalink

In reply to by William (not verified)

Hi William,

Hi William,
That may be the case as the SSA does consider inheritance to be income for the month that you receive it and a financial resource for the months afterward. The child may have become ineligible for SSI for the time that they had the inheritance untill they have less that 2,000 in savings.

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

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