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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13566
Experience:  22+ years legal exp. - 12+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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I have a social security survivor's benefit son and I am a

Customer Question

I have a social security survivor's benefit for my son and I am a payee because he is a minor. My question is concerning when he turns 18. I have been saving the money for him so that when he turns 18 and finishes high school, he will have funds for college.
I have heard that when my son turns 18, social security office will ask for any unused benefit saved and will need to be returned back to social security administration.
Is it true? That I have to give back unused benefit? I know this money will help him to continue his education and I am very upset about hearing this. What can I do if it is true?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 2 years ago.

Yes, this is true, but it is not as bad at it sounds and there is positive action you can take now. Give me a bit and I will post an explanation on that, OK?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for your patience.
It is true that unused moneys are the right of the son, once he turns 18. I have seen the SSA simply direct an RP to pay it to the adult child, but now I see more where the SSA orders it be returned and IT is supposed to cut a check for the adult child (so they can make sure it happens).
But, there is nothing I have seen to suggest you can't put it into a trust account or 529 for him, so that when he turns 18, it is already there for him. If a trust account, there is a trustee who spends it as required under the trust. That way you can explain that there is none left over, all was put into a trust account for him, earning interest etc. I don't know of anyone who has done this (although I'd expect it to be) but I see now reason why this is not legitimate. Same thing, you can pre-pay college.
If that sounds terribly complicated (and it kind of does), you can also do this:
CHARGE him/his benefits for his proportion of the house costs, food costs, clothing, extra curricular activities (keep documentation/accounting/receipts). Use up "his" money. Meanwhile, because you will no longer be using "your" money for these legitimate expenses of "his", you have that same money in your own pocket. You can then take YOUR saved money and make any kind of savings account you want with YOUR money - and use it or not use it for his college one day. This keeps the SSA out of it. MANY people spend ALL dependent benefits of the child on living expenses of the child, plus his fun stuff, and that is all legitimate. Now, if you already have put the moneys into an account in his name (or some dedicated account as RP), this could be tricky for past moneys, unless you can take it out and put it into that trust account for 529 in his name... but if not, I'd create documentation of all the things that money went to (in hindsight).
Great question! This is coming up more and more.
I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions.
Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To Stephanie O Joy Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.
Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.
Your Online Social Security Professional
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Just checking if you are still working on response
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 2 years ago.
I already posted it, can you see it above?