As some of my earlier blog posts have detailed, the pursuit of Social Security disability benefits is an arduous one.
More so for children, it seems, as their claims appear to be given greater scrutiny by the system as they ostensibly already have a resource in place to pay for their upkeep and treatment – their parents.
Moreover, even if you are able to successfully navigate the labyrinth of rules and regulations to obtain disability benefits for your child, the struggle is not over. Unlike with adults, who can pretty much spend their monthly monetary stipend as they wish, the check that comes with your child’s disability benefits comes with strings attached.
The Representative Payee
When a child is awarded disability benefits, a “representative payee” is selected to manage them for the minor. Typically this is an unpaid position.
According to the Social Security Act, the monthly monetary benefit can only be spent on the child’s “education or job skills training,” “personal needs assistance,” “special equipment,” “housing modification,” “medical treatment,” “therapy or rehabilitation” or “any other item or service that the Commissioner determines to be appropriate….”
This typically means that a third party — a parent or anyone else for that matter — can not be reimbursed for money spent or any other assistance rendered in caring for the child prior to the award. And no new car or house either.
In plain English, essentially the check can only be spent on food, clothes, medical care and items of a similar nature. You can always check with the SSA before you spend the money to be on the safe side.
The “representative payee” must keep track of how they spend the money, or else risk possible sanctions by the SSA which may hinder the proper upkeep and treatment of the child.
If you or your child have been denied disability benefits or suffer from a severe impairment that is expected to last more than twelve months and that prevents you from doing any of your past or other work or is causing developmental delay, please contact our office nearest to you to set up a free consultation appointment to discuss your situation.