Legal Question in Social Security Law in California

My mother just passed away. She recieved social security benefits. My sister is 14 and would be elegible for survivor benefits. I do not trust her father (who she lives with) with that money, is there a way to shield my sisters payments to save them for her future?

Asked on 3/16/13, 1:39 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Daphne Macklin Law Office of Daphne L. Macklin
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The surviving dependent's benefits that your younger sister is entitled to receive are funds that are paid for her present living expenses, as if her mother were still alive to support her. Given your sister's age, her father will most likely be appointed her Social Security Representative Payee. He will be required to provide an annual accounting to SSA explaining how he has spent the funds he has received on her behalf.

If your concern is that your sister's father will not be an appropriate manager of her SSD dependents' benefits, you may want to contact SSA with your credible concerns about his stewardship of her funds. If SSA believes that your sister's father is not a good manager of her resources, then SSA may appoint an institutional payee who will deduct a fee from your sister's monthly benefits. You have two alternatives if you have feel that the father will not handle the funds appropriately. First, you or another adult family member may apply to be your sister's Representative Payee. Whoever does this must meet SSA's standards for representative payees. To review those standards go to www.ssa.gov. The other option is to petition through the Superior Court Probate Department in your county to be appointed the conservator of your sister's estate. If this order is granted then you would be allowed to become your sister's SSA Representative payee.

Your concern about your sister is commendable, however you must have significant proof that your sister's father will not properly manage her funds in order to overcome the presumption that a parent will be a good caretaker of his child's resources. You also need to consider what impact your suspicions may have on family relationships. You may want to take this matter to family mediation if you have valid grounds for your concern. Good luck with this.

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3/16/13, 5:44 pm

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