In December 2009, under West Virginia adoption laws, my wife and I adopted our 12-year-old granddaughter, who was living with us. Before the legal adoption, and from the time of her birth, we have been her legal guardians. Because we are both receiving social security benefits, our newly adopted daughter (formally granddaughter) was also eligible for social security benefits, drawing on a portion of my wife’s benefits. Subsequently, in August 2010, a decision was made that the child would begin to live with her aunt and uncle. It was our decision that this would be best for her, as she would be with a younger family, and it was something she wanted to do.
Now, it appears that the child’s natural mother
(our biological daughter) is going to marry in December 2010. She would like the child to live with her, after her marriage. It is our understanding, under West Virginia law, that adoptions between family members can be reversed or changed, with approval of the court, as long as all parties agree.
Based on these facts we have the following questions:
1. If our adopted child (natural grandchild) does not live with us, can she continue to receive social security benefits, assuming she continues as our adopted daughter?
2. If we do not claim the child as a dependent on our tax return, can her aunt (with whom she has been living) or her mother claim the child on either of their tax returns, even while the child continues to receive social security benefits?
3. The social security administration told us that she is our legal child and that it does not matter where she lives; that as our legal child, she is entitled to social security benefits, as long as her adoption continues and is not reversed or changed. Is this true?
4. Furthermore, the social security administration told us that a change in where the child lives is not a reportable event to them. Is this true?