November 25, 2007,
R.H. asks from Salt Lake City, UT on November 18, 2007
Advice Needed About Social Security Benefits
I have 2 children, a 15 year old daughter and a 7 year son. Both my children are from different fathers. My daughter started receiving social security benefits apx. 2 years ago because her father had to stop working for health issues. (He passed away on Nov. 4).
Here's my problem: my daughter receives social security benefits on her father's behalf and my son does not receive the same benfits being that he has a different father. My daughter has everything, plus more. When she needs clothes, shoes, etc. she is able to get them right away. My son, on the other hand, has very, very little. He is aware of why his sister gets money and he doesn't. Yet, it still seems so unfair.
By social security laws, I am not entitled to all of her money and her money has to go to her. I do take her portion of the bills, as social security has instructed me to do. The rest of the monthly benefits need to go to her. I am on a very limited income. If either my daughter or myself have too much money saved, social security will drop our benefits.
I am not sure what to do to help my son feel better with this. I am not wealthy by any means so I can't give him everything is sister gets. IHelp! I am in need of some suggestions.
So What Happened?™
Wow! I can see how much diversity there is on this and unfortunately, it seems that there may be some confusion about social security and the laws that govern it. I was glad to see that other people were "in the same boat" and that there was advice offered to me from some of you who understand.
I want to clarify once more, that I do take her portion of the bills and apply it to what she should pay. We mostly use public transportation, and she does pay for all of her bus fare.
With that being said, here is what I have decided to do from some of the suggestions. I have talked to both my son and daughter and we have agreed that she will give a small portion of the money to her brother so that he, too, can buy things that he is in need of. He is only 7, but he has asked if he can get a bank account. He has watched his sister go to the bank and would like to start saving some of his money as well I don't imagine him saving a whole lot, but it is a good lesson that he has been taught. Also, I plan on opening a trust fund for both of them that they can access when they are 18. I will talk to her about charity work and donations as well. Without being asked, she donated a good amount of money to the salvation army in their bucket just last week. I
Someone mentioned household chores, she is excellent about doing those and also helps tend her brother a lot.
Once again, thank you for all the suggestions!
S. answers from Salt Lake City on November 18, 2007
Both my dad and step mom received SS benefits. My dad for his six kids after my mom died, he was the one to receive them and was the one that had to see that rent, bills and food was paid for. When did SS benefit change and when were they made for a teenagers plaything or hearts desire and not going for cost of living. SS benefits are a replacement of income not an allowance; if she is receiving money because of her dad then you are not getting child support. Then she should be putting this money in to her cost of living .this may be mean but Divide the bills by three and then one of them in half to replace what her dad would have paid in child support and have her pay this amount in to the house. I would also talk to the SS Benefit office to find out why this money is not for use by the whole household for living expenses.
J.M. answers from St. Cloud on November 19, 2007
First of all I want to say that SS benefits are for the child. They are not for the parents. Having said that, I understand you use a certain amount of that to help with rent, food, electricity etc. As that child also needs all those things. For those of you who don't know about SS, it can not be saved. I do not understand or agree with tha, but you can't save it. Growing up, my step-sister received SS benefits as her mom died when she was 7. She always had more than myself and my brother and sister. As a kid having experienced that, I did not understand it either. As I grew older, I began to realize why she got that money. I do not know if your son will be able to understand right now, I know at that age, I never did. As time goes on, he will get a more clearer understanding.
My parents explained things to my over and over as the years passed. I think it is important to do that. Age appropriate converstaions of course. If you would like more advice, or specifics, feel free to email me. Good Luck.
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C.L. answers from Salt Lake City on November 19, 2007
I say take half her money and put it in a personal safe at home (since they check bank records). That way she still gets enough to live comfortably and has a little in savings for when she goes to college in three years.
It's a hard situation for one child to see something that another one is getting, but at least your son still has his father, and your daughter doesn't (does he get to spend time with his father?) Sometimes seeing that he has a father and she no longer does, helps a little. It's also important for him to understand the govermental process, so explain it to him (in easy terms of course).
It may not seem fair, but neither does losing a father.
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A.I. answers from Lansing on November 20, 2007
i would take some of it and use it to get what your son need to as long as your daughter has what she needs and all your bills are being paid like you say it can't be saved another was to do it ever month buy two 25 dollar saving bonds one for her on for him and put them away
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C.M. answers from Billings on November 19, 2007
I was in the same boat that you are awhile back. My son was recieving Social Security benefits and my daughter wasnt. We took some of the money that he recieved to help get some of the things that she needed too. I didnt think that it was fair that one was getting everything and the other wasnt. We also limited what our son was getting. Just because it was his money didnt mean that he got whatever he wanted. Your daughter is older than mine were at the time so she might understand if you tell her that you want to use some of the money for her brother. You could also try to curb what she gets with the money. If you have any more questions feel free to contact me.
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J.W. answers from Fargo on November 20, 2007
Hi there! Ignore the "enabling" comment. They obviously have no idea what they are talking about.
My son also receives SS payments because of his father and I too have a daughter with my husband (who obviously isn't my son's natural father) The way I see it is that the SS payment is my child support. I get the money. Sometimes my son likes to act like it is HIS money. It's not. If he were on his own and paying his own way, then yes, it would be. He lives under our roof and we are his parents. He would get a monthly allowance that wasn't that big and he was expected to use it wisely. He would get that money even if the payments weren't coming. The rest goes to the household income and is spent on bills and all that fun stuff.
I used to feel a bit (but just a bit) guilty about the money until my son was placed in a center for a little while because of some bad choices he made. When they figured out what he cost to have custody of per month, I nearly choked. It was 2.5 times what the payments were. From that I realized that the money really did cover more than I had thought about.
Instead of taking her portion of the bills, start paying attention to what things reallly cost. Not just rent and electricity. Food, medications, gas, any school fees, etc. There are little things we don't even pay attention to that add up. Or just do what I do and consider it part of the family income. Because really, it is.
This got long and rambly. I'm sorry. I hope I wasn't too harsh. I certainly didn't mean to be. I wish you luck with whatever you choose to do.
S.S. answers from Omaha on November 20, 2007
I think we as parents, tend to let our kids know too much about our finances. My brothers wife died he received SSI on their 2 kids plus her two kids from other dads. He got all of it until they were 18 because he was raising them. Somehow I don't see where soc security can "decide" where to spend the money you are using to clothe, house and feed your child. But I am sure there are lots of things I don't know. Maybe your daughter would be willing to buy your son some stuff- Kids are pretty good about that kind of stuff.
A.A. answers from Salt Lake City on November 18, 2007
Put the money in a college savings account for your daughter. Let her be an example to your son when she attends college. If your social security money is withheld because you save too much then you don't need the money to begin with. Your daughter is currently learning a lesson about how to get our government take care of her (enabling) - she'll have a much harder lesson to learn when she is cut off by this enabler at the age of 18.
L.O. answers from Fargo on November 20, 2007
What about putting some of her money in a savings account for college each month? Since you are the parent, you can decide what she does with the social security benefits each month. Maybe she does not have to buy clothes, shoes, etc right away. She can learn to save her money just like your son would have to if he wants something.