Advice Needed About Social Security Benefits

Updated on November 25, 2007
R.H. asks from Salt Lake City, UT
17 answers

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.

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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!


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answers from Salt Lake City on

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.

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answers from St. Cloud on

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.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Billings on

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.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

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.
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

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

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fargo on

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.



answers from Fargo on

just because the money is 'for her' doesn't mean that she should get it to spend freely....a reasonable amount should be used for her care and feeding....if there are three people in your household then 1/3 of the rent is housing her....ditto the utilities and food should come out of that ssi check......and some should be put away in savings for her when she's older (college?....first apt? etc)

my three kids got a taste of this same thing when they were growing up...after their dad left us, he married a woman with two kids... each of her kids (young teens) got $1000 a month because their father had died....i got NO child support from my ex AT ALL and barely made ends meet every month (and frequently the ends didn't meet, sometimes i'd even be working two jobs)... he was working two, sometimes three, jobs to support her and her kids ....and each of her kids were given their ENTIRE social security check each month to spend as they pleased...

i suggest sitting down with your daughter and showing her how much it costs to run your household and gently pointing out how it's not fair for her to have so much spending money when a good chunk of that money should go to her living expenses, since that's what it's really intended to be (just like child support)....ask her to help in setting up a family budget and have her help decide what is reasonable to her to save and how much of her monthly check should go into the family budget...hopefully, it is done is a gentle and non-confrontational manner, you can work something out...

you're really not doing her any favors allowing her to grow up thinking she can live high on the hog while the rest of the family suffers....and as your son grows older he will come to resent her matter how hard you try to prevent it....just ask my kids about their step siblings...


ps....from the social security website:

About 3.8 million children receive approximately $1.6 billion each month because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired or deceased. Those dollars help to provide the necessities of life for family members and help to make it possible for those children to complete high school. When a parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits help to stabilize the family’s financial future.



answers from Milwaukee on

From the sounds of it, it doesn't sound like any charity work could be done with some of the money? Your daughter could use this time to learn to help others as well. Maybe she does a bit of charity work to earn the money??? She could buy her brother a gift each month? Show him how she understands what he may be feeling???
Just ideas. It can be hard growing up and understanding todays world. It would probably be hard for her to give up that money at this age, or maybe not.

A friend of mine went into her daughters classroom and showed the kids how their money could grow over the years. The kids seemed totally surprised at what could be saved over the years and when you compare it to what the child's goals are and what they want, they learn to work for and earn the things they want. Maybe take her to a financial person and let her see her options. If she is old enough to be greedy, she is old enough to learn about how money can work for her.... ???

Just thoughts, no feelings meant to be hurt.
Good Luck!!



answers from Jackson on

As a mother of a child who also receives benefits, I understand what you are saying. However, if you look closer at the information they send you, that money is to help with all needs. Which includes gas, food, home improvements, car upkeep, and pretty much anything a family does not just the bills. If you figure everything in including clothes and personal care the extra money should be to a small count. Every bit helps but I know they don't make those checks that big. And for those of you who don't know ss benefits are benefits and not welfare! That one comment was harsh and seems like someone who just doesn't know what they are talking about. I lost my mother at the age of 3 and received RSDI, I now had to quit my job to take care of my disabled son who now gets SSI. If you ever have any questions please feel free to send me a message. I hope this helps!



answers from Boise on

I agree with one of the moms before, the money isn't her allowance, it's not even hers, it is kinda like child support it is for you to maintin the house, I know that my mother in law recieved it for my husband when he was young for the same reasons, but it came to her and she maintained the house with it and then spent a little extra on him and his brother, who also had a different dad. Give her a small allowance out of it and put the rest away for collage or what ever she wants to do in the future, But also explain to your son that he is only 7 and in time when he is of age you will do everything possible for him to to have some of these things, I know in my house thats my older ones have more things then the younger ones but that is because of there age, yes money is an issue, but no 7 year old needs an Ipod, cell phone ect.. we have almost every game system out there but they have to share, even the ones that were bought for a specific child has to share. Hope that helped.



answers from Fargo on

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.



answers from Salt Lake City on

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.



answers from Omaha on

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.



answers from Jackson on

What a difficult situation to be in. I think I would consult a financial advisor to find some loopholes in which your Daughter could save money (i.e. for college expenses) And also put her on a weekly allowance so she's not spending it on anything her little heart takes a fancy to.

You could also give your son a small allowance, he's 7 so maybe $5.00 per week would be enough for now. Just so he has "some" $$ to do with what he wants.



answers from Omaha on

In my opinion, it is not any of your daughter's business how much you receive, where the money is spent or on whom. SS money is to be used for household expenses, tuition, clothing, food, and everything else. You are setting your son up to have ill feelings toward his sister if she is getting all kinds of new stuff and he is not. This is a no-brainer. Use the money wisely and if you have money left, check into a tax-free college savings account for BOTH children. One should not benefit more than the other. You are, after all, a family. Everyone benefits. No guilt. Period.

(I too, received SS money when my father died, as did my sisters. We all shared the money, even when one of us aged out of the benefits.)



answers from Dubuque on

My dad passed away when was very young and received social security benefits until I was 18. My mom and step-dad(who she married when I was 12) were by no means well off. I didn't get that money every month. My mom gave me money twice a year from it to buy clothes and things for school but the rest was used to pay for bills and such. She also put some in my savings account every month for college. The thought never crossed my mind that I should get to spend that money on whatever I please. It cost alot to raise a child and I realize that more now than ever. Just think as though it was child support, but that's is what is really is. I get child support from my daughter's dad every month but I don't spend the entire amount on toys and clothes for her. I am also providing a home for her which time money to keep up. Rent, utilities, food, dance class, car, gas. Take all that into account. I know teenagers are not always easy to talk to but just let her know where you are coming from on this.



answers from Omaha on

May I just say that my husband works full time and I work part time and for the benefit of our children we do NOT allow them to just spend money on whatever they want. WE can't afford that! We have taught our children to be incredibly grateful that daddy has a job and can provide food, clothing, shelter, education etc... That is what social security benefits are for. I think you need to tell your daughter that she is being selfish and I wouldn't allow her to decide how that money is spent. YOU are the parent here and YOU should be making ALL financial decisions!

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