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Beneficiary Under Age 18

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at


1602. Beneficiary Under Age 18

1602.1 If a beneficiary is under age 18, is a representative payee necessary?

A beneficiary under age 18 is generally considered incapable of managing his or her own funds, and a representative payee is needed.

1602.2 When can direct payment be made to beneficiaries under age 18?

Payments may be made directly to a beneficiary under age 18 if:

  1. The beneficiary is age 15 or over; and

  2. It serves the beneficiary's best interests; and

  3. The beneficiary does not have a legal guardian; and

  4. The beneficiary is:

    1. Receiving disability insurance benefits on his or her own Social Security earnings record; or

    2. Serving in the military services; or

    3. Self-supporting and living alone; or

    4. A parent and files for his or her own or his or her child's benefits, and has experience in handling his or her own finances; or

    5. Capable of using the funds to provide for his or her own current needs and no qualified payee is available; or

    6. Within seven months of reaching age 18 and is initially filing an application for benefits.

Note: If a minor beneficiary has the status of an adult under State law, he or she may be paid directly.

Last Revised: Aug. 2, 2007

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