TN 8 (08-23)

GN 00608.046 Evaluation of SSA 7161-OCR-SM — Item 9-Use of Benefits


In evaluating the use of benefits, it is important to note that foreign cases can present special situations. Due to unique family customs in foreign countries, the term “proper use” may have a broader meaning than when applied to domestic cases. In foreign countries, it is not unusual for only one member of a large household to be entitled to Social Security benefits. In some cultures, these households are quite large and encompass more than those living in the same house. They include individuals in the beneficiary's immediate family (i.e., parents, sisters and brothers), as well as distant relations and unrelated individuals. The Social Security benefits often represent a substantial part, if not all, of the income to the household.

In such cases, Social Security benefits are often merged with any other income and used indiscriminately for all members of the household. No attempt is made to segregate the beneficiary's funds for the beneficiary's use to meet any special expenses, or to conserve funds. The beneficiary's current needs are met in the same proportion and manner as other members of the household.

The degree to which the beneficiary derives social or psychological support from such an extended or kinship family structure is difficult to measure. It is unrealistic to attempt to establish the value of the benefits derived by the beneficiary as a member of a communal family household where all members customarily share and share alike. It is equally unrealistic to expect that the beneficiary's funds would be held separate to meet only the beneficiary's needs or to provide them with a standard of living significantly different from their household group.


Social Security benefits must be used for the current care and maintenance of the beneficiary; that is, food, clothing and shelter. Current care and maintenance also include medical and dental expenses and personal needs.


If item 9 is answered “NO,” and there is not an adequate explanation in “Remarks,” develop to determine how the payee used the benefits.

In cases such as described in A. above, do not question the use of benefits for the entire household in a foreign country.

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
GN 00608.046 - Evaluation of SSA 7161-OCR-SM — Item 9-Use of Benefits - 08/15/2023
Batch run: 08/15/2023