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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



There are 11 Comments

Do payments switch from being disbursed to representative payee to being paid to beneficiary when the beneficiary turns 18 and is still in high school?

My son got incarcerated on august 20 2010. His grandmother is trying to get custody of him so she can get his check to buy drugs.I have had my son for over 10 years and now she's trying to step in and get custody of him because she doesn't have a job and no income so basically she wants him to receive his money,she is a 3-4 time felony she's been in and out of jail she doesn't deserve my son she'll have him on drugs. she truly not fit to raise him she's a disgrace.

Generally, benefit recipients under age 18 need a Representative Payee who will manage the payment for the benefit of the minor.

If you believe the Representative Payee is misusing the payments (not using payment for benefit of the child), you may want to report it to the Office of the Inspector General :

I just turned 18 and im sure its been dismissed cause thats how it went with my sisters. I wasnt receveing any checks for about a year cause i moved can i go get the rest that i never got

I'm supporting myself the best way I know how.I am recieveing benefits but I do have a Payee.I do not live with that person and I haven't been for a while I wanna change my payee or even see if I can be my own because I can manage money.

My step children boy and girl got their benefits from their last step mother before she died. However, they both lived with their father when they got their benefits, and then went back to live with their mother. The son, had gone from his mom to us and then back again. The first time he left us and went back to his mother, we had him for 21 days of March and sent his check with him on the 24thof the month. Then he came back to us in Sept on the 15th. We were told that because he was with his mom for 2 weeks of the month, she would get to keep his check, and then she now gets her daughter's check whom is just at 16 in one week. The daughter now lives with her boyfriend until her school sememster is over in a few weeks, and I am just wondering why does the mom continue to get the kids'money and not use it for them and their needs? Isn't their money suppose to go with them ???

My son was diagnosed with ADHD and psycological/drepression disorder and I was told that social security can help me with his medical expenses. I am on a very tight budget and the expenses can be overwhelming. I have reports of his diagnosis for proof of his condition. He is 16 years old and has been going through this since he was 13. Can someone advise/direct me to the proper channels so I can receive the financial help I need? Thank you.

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