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RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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When a child receives social security survivors benefits,

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When a child receives social security survivor's benefits, specifically what is the money supposed to be spent on? The social security website is vague about it, and I want to make sure I have been spending it correctly
Thank you for your question.

There is no set list of how the benefits are to used; the money however must be used for the care and well-being of the child. Thus, money should be spent paying for housing, utilities, food, clothing, and and uninsured medical care costs of the child, as well as things like daycare or educational costs. It should never be used for things like a parent/guardian using the money for their own personal benefit, such as to get themselves plastic surgery.

If there is money left over at the end of the month (doubtful) then it should be put into savings for the child.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't understand what is meant by housing and utilities. Does it mean the child pays a percentage of the rent or what?

No, I'm sorry for not being clear. What I mean is that the money can be used to pay to ensure a child has housing and/or utilities like electricity, heat and water. Thus, a parent or guardian can use the money the child receives (in full, even) to pay towards the rent/mortgage as well as utilities. It's not a percentage at all. If the rent is lets say $1500 a month, and the child gets $500 a month, and the parent needs that $500 to help pay the rent, it should be used for that -because the money is paying to house the child.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So, the more income the parents had, the less the child had to pay on expenses, right?

Yes. The money is supposed to be used for the care and support of the child which can be many things -uninsured medical, rent/mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, daycare, schooling costs, even recreation for the child (e.g., taking the child to a movie, or paying for birthday gifts). If a parent can pay all of these expenses without using all or some of the money from the survivor benefits, then that left over money should go into savings for the child -it still cannot be used for personal use.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

But the parents income has no effect on the amount of the child's check, does it?


No, the survivor benefits are based on the earnings of the decedent.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

One more thing. My child's benefits went onto a debit card every month, and I had other debit cards from my checking account and my husband's checking account. I kept track of what I spent her money on, but I used all 3 debit cards for various purchases, using mine and my husband's for her expenses, and hers for whatever. I guess I shouldn't have done that. Can I get in trouble about it?

Theoretically, you probably could -but the reality is it's not as if someone in the government is sitting there reviewing and monitoring all of these accounts month after month, so unless it was brough to the attention of social security, I would say you're fine. Just make sure in the future to use the money for her needs or if you don't need it for that, to put it in savings for her and not to confuse the accounts.
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