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:
- insurance costs
- medical care
- child care expenses
- 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!