Representative payees receive and manage Social Security benefits on behalf of children under the age of 18. The representative payee is responsible for filing a report with the Social Security Administration (SSA) each year that documents how he spent the minor's benefits. Some benefits may also be taxable, and whoever files a child's income taxes needs to include information about Social Security income in her annual return.
Social Security Family Benefits
If an adult works long enough to earn eligibility for Social Security benefits, his children may be entitled to benefits if he dies or becomes disabled before the children turn 18. The children receive benefits on a monthly basis until they turn 18, though a 19 year old who is still a full-time high school student can receive benefits until he graduates, or his next birthday, whichever comes first.
Supplemental Security Income
The Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) is a cash benefit program for low-income elderly and disabled people of any age. Children who are disabled and whose families meet established income requirements receive monthly payments from SSI. While the SSA oversees and administers this program, SSI funds come from general taxes, not Social Security revenues.
The SSA does not pay benefits directly to children. Instead, the SSA sends funds to a "representative payee," an adult who is responsible for managing the child's funds. If the child does not have a responsible parent or guardian who can assume this role, a social services organization may be appointed as the child's representative payee. Each year, the payee must complete an "Income and Expenses Worksheet" that documents the use of the child's benefit funds.
SSI payments are not taxable and should not be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as income. While a child's survivors' benefits are technically taxable, a child would only have to pay taxes on this income if she makes enough money from other types of work to raise her income to a taxable level.
- IRS.gov: Survivors' Benefits
- Social Security Administration: A Guide for Representative Payees
- IRS.gov: Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits
- IRS.gov; Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?; February 7, 2011
- Social Security Administration; Benefits For Children With Disabilities; June, 2011
- Social Security Administration: Benefits for Your Family
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.