Whether you are the guardian of a child Social Security beneficiary or of a disabled adult who receives Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you may need additional assistance to provide the care and support the individual needs. Although you cannot receive temporary guardian benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are a number of other programs and administrative rules of which you should be aware.
Representative Payee Status
The SSA can designate a representative payee for a child or a disabled adult that is not competent to manage his or her own SSD benefit payments. As a legal guardian, you are not automatically assigned representative payee status. You must apply for this status with the SSA.
All monies issued to you as a representative payee must be used to provide for the needs of your ward. If your temporary guardianship ends, you must notify the SSA immediately and return all unused funds.
You can apply for representative payee status by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by contacting your local SSA office.
State Programs for Guardians
Taking guardianship of a disabled individual or a minor child that receives disability, survivor, or dependent benefits through the SSA is a tremendous responsibility and one that comes with additional financial considerations.
Although the SSA does not provide other financial support, there are a number of state programs for which a disabled adult or child may qualify. These programs may help with everyday expenses associated with providing care for your ward, including paying healthcare, food, and living expenses costs.
- Child Care Assistance – Assistance in finding and paying for child care is among the support services some states offer guardians.
- Child Support – As the guardian of a child, you may be able to petition the court to have child support payments directed to you for the duration of your temporary guardianship.
- Energy Assistance Programs – Although you undoubtedly have energy costs of your own, taking guardianship of a child or disabled adult can put additional financial strain on your resources. This may qualify you and/or your ward to receive help through a state or local energy assistance program.
- Medicaid – A disabled individual of any age may qualify for medical coverage through Medicaid and/or Medicare.
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – SNAP benefits may have a different common name in every state, but food stamp programs area available everywhere. Even if you do not meet the financial eligibility requirements to receive SNAP, a ward for whom you are responsible may be able to receive SNAP.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – TANF benefits are typically provided only for families with great financial need. However, most states offer a “child only” benefit or grant. This type of grant provides immediate financial support for guardians, including temporary guardians, who need help ensuring their wards receive proper care.
Getting the Help You Need
Not every state offers the same assistance programs, but all states do have resources available that may help. Contact your local family social services or Department of Child and Family Services office for more information.