TN 7 (03-02)

GN 00602.020 Using Title II Benefits to Support Other Family Members

Citations:

Section 1924(d) of the Social Security Act;

20 CFR 404.2040

A. POLICY

1. TANF (Formerly AFDC) Payments to Beneficiary's Family

Title II regulations provide that the payee may make the benefit payments available to the AFDC unit if the beneficiary is a member of an Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) assistance unit.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 revised Title IV-A of the Social Security Act and replaced AFDC with cash block grants to States and Indian tribes for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

SSA regulations conform with the TANF income counting function and do not consider it inappropriate for a payee to use a beneficiary's funds to assist the other members of the TANF household unit.

2. Support of Legal Dependents

Title II regulations also provide that some of the benefits may be used to help support the beneficiary's legally dependent spouse, children and/or parents if the beneficiary's current maintenance needs are met.

Similarly, the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act (MCCA) provides that a portion of a Medicaid-eligible institutionalized beneficiary's benefits may be used to support the beneficiary's “community spouse” and any family members who reside with the “community spouse” and are specified in the determination by the State Medicaid agency. This provision is referred as “spousal impoverishment.” Title XIX defines "community spouse" as the spouse of an institutionalized spouse.

3. Child's Benefits

Where a child beneficiary resides in a household with other individuals, the representative payee may provide a reasonable share of the child's benefits for basic household expense items such as food and housing, in addition to providing for the beneficiary's immediate and foreseeable needs.

B. PROCEDURE

1. Support of Legal Dependents

If the payee wants to use a portion of benefits to help support the beneficiary's spouse, child(ren) or parent(s):

  • Determine if the beneficiary's needs are being met so that a portion of his benefits can be used for the support of his dependents.

  • Check for legal precedent or obtain a regional attorney opinion on the subject of whether a spouse, child or parent qualifies as a legal dependent in the beneficiary's resident State. State law determines legal dependency.

2. Spousal Impoverishment

Do not make a determination about legal dependency of the “community spouse” and dependent family members. The State makes this determination. Obtain a copy of the State Medicaid agency determination to determine what portion of the institutionalized beneficiary's benefits can be used to support dependents.

3. Child's Benefits

In determining what constitutes a reasonable share of the child's benefits to contribute toward the household expense items, the best interests of the child remain foremost. Consider the family's household composition with the expectation that families pool their resources. However, all family members may not be able to contribute proportionately. The overall well being and stability of the family unit is of value to the child beneficiary and, in limited instances may justify a somewhat disproportionate contribution of the child's benefits to the household.

If the payee wants to contribute more than a proportionate share of the child's benefits toward household expenses, consider whether a more than proportionate share is needed to maintain the stability of the family unit. If so, more than a proportionate share could be reasonable.

EXAMPLE: A mother, with custody of her four children, resides with them as a family unit. Two of the children receive child's benefits and she serves as their representative payee. The mother is unemployed and receives no support for the other two children. The family has no income other than the social security benefits of the two children. Under such circumstances, strict adherence to the use of benefits for the two child beneficiaries, would jeopardize the family unit and consequently adversely affect the living standard of the child beneficiaries.