TN 46 (01-17)

GN 00502.070 Developing Capability - Children

A. Policy for developing capability - Children

We generally presume minor children (under age 18) to be incapable. Children under age 15 must have a payee and you do not need to develop capability.

However, if the child is emancipated under State law, assume the child is capable unless some other indicator suggests otherwise (see GN 00502.020 through GN 00502.050).

1. When can I consider a minor child capable?

A child age 15 to 17 may be capable unless he or she has a court-appointed legal guardian or is entitled to disability benefits and a substance abuse condition exists which indicates that he or she may need assistance.

Pay the child directly if the child:

  • Is emancipated,

  • Is entitled to disability benefits based on his or her own earnings;

  • Is on active duty in the armed forces;

  • Is living alone and is self-supporting;

  • Is a parent and filed for his or her own or his or her child's benefits and has had experience handling finances;

  • Is within 7 months of attaining age 18; or

  • Has demonstrated the ability to handle his or her finances.

Under these circumstances, presume the child is capable unless some other evidence suggests the child may be incapable.

2. When is it necessary to develop a minor child's capability?

Generally, you should only develop a minor child’s capability when the child asks for direct payment, and files his or her own application. If the child is presumed incapable because of age, you usually do not need to do a capability determination.

B. Procedure - Developing a child's capability

If a minor child is legally under parental control, obtain proof of the child's age to establish that child is deemed incapable and requires a payee.

1. What if a child is emancipated under State law?

If the child is emancipated under State law, obtain a copy of the court order or evidence that the requirements of State law are met.

Children who are emancipated under State law are presumed capable unless there are indications to the contrary.

If there is some doubt regarding an emancipated child's capability, conduct a capability investigation and make a determination as you would for an adult beneficiary.

2. How do I develop for capability and a payee for a minor child?

When a child age 15 to 17 files his or her own claim, determine whether the child is emancipated or living outside of parental control, and can be presumed capable as discussed in GN 00502.070B.1. in this section:

  • If yes, pay the child directly.

  • If no, determine why the child's parent is not filing the claim and whether he or she exercises control over the child.

    • If the parent is exercising control over the child, decide whether the parent should be the payee. (Generally, a parent with interest in and exercising control over a child would be the preferred payee.) However, if you are uncertain of the parent's interest and the child has shown the ability to handle finances, pay the child directly.

    • If the child has a legal guardian, ask why the guardianship was established. Follow GN 00502.003 to develop capability.

If you cannot find a qualified payee and the child is not capable, refer the case to a social agency for a special investigation into the child's welfare and for a recommendation for a payee. Pending this recommendation, either pay the child directly (if permitted) or suspend benefits per GN 00504.110.

You must document the social agency’s recommendation or findings:

  • Cases established in the electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) (a payee application is taken or will be taken, whether the application is denied or approved):

    On the Beneficiary Details page, using the Add Report of Contact link, complete the RPOC. In the “Report” section write “CAPA-SOCIAL AGY CONTACT” before adding your details (see MS INTRANETERPS 016.002).

  • Cases not established in eRPS (e.g., the payee does not have an SSN):

    • Title 2 or Concurrent--Complete the Report of Contact (RPOC). In the “Report” section, write “CAPA-SOCIAL AGY CONTACT” before adding your details (see MS MCS 008.007).

    • Title 16--Complete the Report of Contact (DROC). In the “Report Text” section write “CAPA-SOCIAL AGY CONTACT” before ad