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Previous payee withheld survivor benefits?

My 2 sons receive survivor benefits from their deceased mother. For a few months after her death, they stayed with her mother while I secured a bigger home. She became the payee during this time.

After the boys came to stay with me, we left her as the payee just to save the trouble of paperwork. Well, that and she said she wanted to make sure I was really going to keep the boys.

Every month I get a money order from her. After 4 years we finally got all the paperwork straightened out and I became their payee. I set up direct deposit, and the first payment I received was for TWICE the amount she has been sending me.

I don't want to accuse her of anything until I know for certain that something has gone on. How can I find out: 1) How much they should be getting each month. 2) If there were back payments owed that would account for the double amount.

If the grandmother has been keeping half of their benefits, do I need to sue for that money or will SSA go after her for me?


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I recommend contacting the SSA directly for your particular case.

You can get one quick estimate of survivor benefits by using the following calculator. Enter appropriate wage and other information for the deceased mother :

http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/index.html

For reference, in 2009, minor children of deceased workers were receiving an average monthly survivor benefit of $742. Note that as family size (number of children) increases, the per-child benefit drops due to something called the "Family Maximum".

http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/young.htm

When serving as the representative payee, the grandmother was required to track expenses used for the benefit of the boys. Nowadays the SSA encourages online reporting of this information, but a sample "paper" form follows :

http://www.ssa.gov/payee/NewGuide/ssa-6234exhibitB.pdf

http://www.ssa.gov/payee/form/

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