Social Security Q & A

Q: Should I consult with an attorney in order for my son to receive more SSI monthly payments? He receives $420.00/mo. We have to provide everything for him. He will never be able to work or live on his own. We are 55 years old.

       A: The benefits are most likely being reduced because you are not making him pay rent.  Create a lease where he pays you monthly for his room.  This should help.  If not, contact an attorney.

Q: My 15-year-old was just approved for SSI and received a back paycheck for $2,382. His first payment begins 11/1 for $794 monthly. I have heard many different things regarding what so am allowed to do with the money but never have been able to confirm with the SSA.

My questions are:

    1. What am I allowed to use the back pay money for? Can I put the entire amount or part of it into his ABLE savings account I recently opened for him? Can I use some as a down payment on a car for us? (We have a single-family car but it only works every other day. It is not a reliable or practical vehicle).

       A: The money can be used for anything as long as it is for the disabled person.  If you put the money into an ABLE account, then there will be limitations on how the money is used. 

Q: Regarding his monthly payments, what are we allowed to use that for? I’ve heard all sorts of things. Do you need to set up a bank account for your child prior to applying for SSI?  Can SSI be direct deposited into a bank account in the name of a trust? 

      A: The money just needs to be used for the disabled person.  I would not deposit it into a trust because then there will be limitations on how it can be used.  *Special Needs Trusts are used to protect any other assets from affecting the SSI amount and qualifications. 

Q: Do you need your guardianship paperwork prior to applying for SSI for your 18 yo?

      A: No

Q: Are benefits retro to the person’s 18th birthday when they qualify?

      A: No. SSI starts when the application is filed. 

Q: How do you determine an amount for room and board?  How do you have your child make a payment?  Can it be a transfer to the parent account each month? 

      A: Room and board will depend to some extent on where you live.  $250 is a frequent number used. It can be transferred to the parent’s account or paid by check.  You just want to show the payments are being made. 

Q: Can you pay other bills out of the child’s account that are specific for the child – IE:  healthcare bills, caretaker? If your child goes into a group living environment how do you utilize the SSI dollars? pay the bills, buy food, put it into your own account to pay bills….I’m so confused. I’d like to take a small part to help with utilities and his monthly school tuition, and could I put part of that into his ABLE savings account every month?

       A: You can use the SSI money for anything that benefits the disabled person.  Again, putting it into a supplemental needs trust or able account would limit how the money can be used. 

Q: Though my child’s father isn’t active in her life, it’s come to the knowledge that he recently retired. Would she at her age of 30 be eligible on his Social Security benefits to receive SSDI rather than SSI?

      A: Yes if she was disabled before the age of 22. 

Q: If you submit your SSI months AFTER they turn 18 years old, does SSI back pay from when they turn 18?

     A: No.  The clock starts when Social Security receives the application. 

Q: What am I doing wrong that I am continually told that our household income is too high for my 14-year-old daughter to qualify for assistance? Is it true that these benefits are solely based upon parental income?

     A: SSI is a needs-based program.  Your income counts against your daughter until she is 18. 

 Q: What is the timeline/checklist for parents of children in their teenage years?

      A: If the child is already on SSI benefits, be on the lookout for a redetermination letter at the age 18.  If the child is not on SSI, make sure they are being seen by a doctor and you are not putting any assets in his or her name.  Apply once they turn 18. 

Q: What parts need to be done by an attorney and what parts can parents do themselves?

      A: Any of the processes can be done without a lawyer.  However, I would suggest you contact one if you are denied for any reason. 

 Q: Do SSI and Medicaid payments change when parents retire?

     A: If the child was disabled before the age of 22, the benefits could change to Adult Disabled Child Benefits. 

 Q: How to dispose of or move extra assets. We have a small property for accessible camping and that’s why we can’t receive benefits even though Avalon was approved. Trying to look into setting it up as a special needs trust for her but it seems complicated/expensive.

     A: You will need to set up a trust, sell the asset and spend it down or wait for the child to turn 18.  I really suggest contacting an attorney to give you more specific suggestions depending on some unknown facts. 

Q: Do you need to set up a bank account for your child prior to applying for SSI? 

     A: No you do not have to set up a bank account or get guardianship before applying. 

Q: If a parent receives SSDI and their child receives a portion of it do they not qualify for SSI when they turn 18?  

      A: It depends on if the child would receive more as an adult disabled child rather than SSI benefits.