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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    My sister-in-law died 4 years ago. Her son was forced to go live with his father, who never married my sister-in-law. My nephew is about to turn 18 and has moved out of his father's home about 5 months ago. My nephew has never seen any of his social security benefits. His father's soon-to-be ex-wife has informed him that there are two accounts, one for my nephew and one for his half-sister (they have different mothers), with exactly the same amount in them. There are small deposits made to both accounts at the same time each month. It is possible that his half-sister is getting half of his benefit. My nephew, who is still in high school this year, would like to receive his own social security benefits, find out what has been happening with his checks all these years, and recoup the money so that he can attend college. He was always told that was the plan, but it turns out now that he has far less than expected in his account. His father has not worked in 3 years, yet has continued to pay bills, and is now purchasing his grandmother's house. He has never spent any of my nephew's benefit on clothing or anything else for him. How should we proceed?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    16,079

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17 Year Old

    You may ask the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213, M-F, 7A - 7P.

    I don't know if this is the case anymore, but when I was receiving benefits after my father died, my guardians were required to provide an accounting of how the money was being spent. You might ask if this is still the case.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    717

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    Well, adults are not supposed to hand money from Social Security benefits over to children for the children to do what they please. And until 5 months ago, did your nephew have a home to live in with his father? And it is awkward in a blended family for one child to live a better lifestyle than another child just because their mother is deceased and there are survivor benefits and the other mother is living and doesn't work herself.

    I will tell you that I hate to see adults live off of the cash cow the comes from benefits for children, yet it happens frequently and if the parent is providing a home for the children, then they are using the money for the child. I also doubt that your nephew has been without clothes for 4 years. I guess you mean the last 5 months. Why didn't you file to be payee as soon as the nephew moved in with you?

    Go to SSA soon, with the 17 year old. Bring proof that he is still in high school. It may be too early to report that, but maybe not. At 18, he can be paid directly as long as he is still in high school. But it will stop at 19.

    SSA can ask the dad for an accounting, but if dad spent it all on providing current food and shelter, or doesn't respond at all, there is often little that SSA can do.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    Thank you both for your replies. No, my nephew has not moved in with us, he moved in with his coach and their family. We looked at payee and other options, we even tried to become his guardians, but his father fought us and won. Other than the fact that he was not very involved with my nephew while his mother was alive, and he's pretty much a jerk, there was no reason that my nephew legally should not have been placed there. No, he has not been without clothes for four years, clothing has been provided for him by us, his grandmother, his half-sister's grandparents, his uncles, coaches, teachers, you get the picture. He has worked since he was 15 years old so that he could eat (you could usually find a half-empty gallon of spoiled milk in their fridge). The other mother always has worked, it's the father that can't hold a job. I do understand though that paying the mortgage with his benefits is an appropriate use of the funds, even though his father promised all of us that every penny of his benefits would be put into savings so that he may attend college when it is time, or have a nest egg to begin his adult life if he chooses not to go to college. It is an unfortunate situation indeed, yet another tough life lesson for one so young. I'm glad that he has the opportunity to live in an environment free of oppression and fear for his last year of high school. Perhaps it will be a turning point for him, a true springboard to adulthood armed with the knowledge that although humans can be stupid and horrible, we're not all like that, and those that are rarely reap consequences for their selfish actions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    717

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    It's tough for a teenager to lose a mother and not be lovingly cared for by the father.

    This 17 year old may be able to claim that he is emancipated since he is not living with family and has a job that he uses to pay for some of his expenses. As an emancipated minor, he gets paid directly.

    https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502070

    at 17 and 5 months he may be able to be paid directly.

    But I would also bring evidence to show how responsible he is and that he is out of his dad's home, and that dad has been indifferent, if not negligent. It would take more than a birthday to convince me that any 17 year old should be paid directly.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    16,079

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    This 17 year old may be able to claim that he is emancipated since he is not living with family and has a job that he uses to pay for some of his expenses.
    That's not the way emancipation works. One does not simply claim it by dint of paying some of one's own expenses and living apart from parents.

    There's a lengthy legal process to go through that includes that one is 100% self-sufficient, and few teenagers - fewer than 1% of all emancipation petitions heard nationwide - attain emancipated status.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    717

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    One way to be paid benefits directly as a minor is to be recognized by a court as an emancipated minor. However, a minor can also be paid benefits directly if he/she meets the criteria in the link I gave.

    It is uncommon, but it exists.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3

    Smile Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    Thank you all for your kind and helpful suggestions. We'll check out that link and see if it will work for him. I really appreciate everyone taking the time to respond---you are all wonderful!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    not sure
    Posts
    526

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    Quote Quoting Janke
    View Post
    It's tough for a teenager to lose a mother and not be lovingly cared for by the father.

    This 17 year old may be able to claim that he is emancipated since he is not living with family and has a job that he uses to pay for some of his expenses. As an emancipated minor, he gets paid directly.

    https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502070

    at 17 and 5 months he may be able to be paid directly.

    But I would also bring evidence to show how responsible he is and that he is out of his dad's home, and that dad has been indifferent, if not negligent. It would take more than a birthday to convince me that any 17 year old should be paid directly.
    The link you provided is focused on disability benefits, not survivors.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Survivor Benefits for 17-Year-Old

    Bag the suggested drama. Go to the local SSA office and it will be over and done by the time you leave.

    In fact ask about dad spending monies for his own benefit.

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