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Proper Usage of Survivor Benefits?

I am legal guardian to my great niece whose mother died last year. She has lived with me for a year and I just applied for benefits because I didn't even know I could apply for such a thing. I am confused about spending her money. I have been living with my son who owns his house and now my great niece lives here too. I owe him money for back rent for myself and my niece. I also incurred debt raising her for the past year with no help.

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Can I use the lump sum I will be receiving to pay for that now? And can I pay my debt off as well? I also will now pay $1000 per month which includes everything, utilities, rent, water, trash removal, cable, etc. Since I will have the extra funds to do so. She receives $700 a month. I will make up the difference and will buy her food, clothing, etc. too. Is this okay? She is on Medicaid so medical is covered. And I have also homeschooled her over the year and will continue to do so. I need help here because I don't want to spend her money illegally. Thank you.

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February 23, 20160 found this helpful

As legal guardian, I would think you have implicite consent to use the money as you see fit (ever mindful of the needs of the child). However, if you can access legal aid (or some form of low cost legal advice), why not get all the information you can?

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Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 220 Answers
February 23, 20160 found this helpful

Contact the SSA for information your responsibility regarding your niece's survivor's benefits. You can make an appointment to meet with a representative to answer your questions. Also request a statement in writing about your financial responsibilities for your niece.

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Note that you are accountable for all expenses paid from the survivor's benefit. Understanding your financial responsibilities for survivor's benefits now is a smart move to ensure you will provide for your niece correctly and will avoid any questions in the future!

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