Close to 4 million children with a deceased parent receive more than $1.5 billion in Social Security survivor benefits each month. Unmarried children under the age of 18, children who are 19 and are still attending secondary school full-time, and children of any age who were disabled before the age of 22 qualify to receive Social Security survivor benefits.
In special circumstances, step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, or adopted children may receive survivor benefits as well. Social Security survivor benefits for children are intended to replace lost household income following a parent’s death and can be used to pay for expenses associated with housing, feeding, clothing, educating, and providing other essentials to children who qualify to receive the benefit. In some states, however, children in foster care may not receive their benefits directly.
When Ryan Weinberger’s parents died while he was in foster care, the state of Maryland grabbed his Social Security survivor’s benefits – more than $30,000 – to cover his state-funded living expenses. Weinberger is now 21, and he wants Maryland – and other states – to stop confiscating the benefits of foster children. Many hope Maryland will be one of the first states to end a practice that many states adopted decades ago. They want the money – about $15 million in Maryland over the next five years – to be set aside for additional children’s services or as a nest egg for children leaving foster care.
Opponents, however, say the states use the money exactly as a parent would. Ted Dallas, Maryland’s Secretary of Human Resources, told the Baltimore Sun that “Every single dime goes to care for the kids.” What’s more, Dallas said, the money Maryland collects for one child – about $735 a month –doesn’t even cover the cost of care. Proposed legislation would mean cuts in services for all children, Dallas said, because of the loss of revenue.
If you are caring for a child who qualifies for Social Security survivors’ benefits, or if you’re having difficulty obtaining benefits for such a child, speak at once with an experienced Social Security benefits attorney. A good Social Security benefits lawyer can review the situation and help the child promptly receive the appropriate benefits. Nothing is more important than our children. If you need help obtaining survivors’ benefits, contact an experienced Social Security benefits attorney at once.