SSI benefits may be paid on behalf of a disabled child until the child turns 18 (unless a full-time student or disabled), marries, or dies (whichever occurs first). 20 C.F.R. 352(b).
The benefits must be paid to an adult representative payee, such as the child’s parent(s), to be used for the child’s benefit.
In one heart-wrenching and tragic case, a 7-year old child receiving SSI benefits went missing. Her SSI benefits were suspended, but were then reinstated when the child’s mother, who was her representative payee, stated that the benefits were needed in order to search for the child and return her to her home environment.
After a period of five years, the child had still not been heard from. The agency noted that, according to FBI statistics, the longer a person is missing, the lower the likelihood of their return. There was sufficient uncertainty under the circumstances that it was ruled the child’s benefits should be suspended until her whereabouts were known.
The reason given was that there is no authority for the disability Trust Fund to make payments on behalf of someone who is missing or believed to be deceased. In addition, SSA must certify to the Secretary of the Treasury the address of the person entitled to payments and the time of such payments.
This case is described in Social Security Ruling (SSR) 93-3.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.