Ask Larry

Why Is Social Security Asking Me To Return The Funds I've Saved For My Nephew?

Hi Larry,
My husband and I are the legal guardians of my nephew. I was also his Representative Payee for Survivor benefits until they ended on April 1st, 2022.
SSA is demanding a r4eport from me within 30 days and I should have another 4 months to do this. Also my nephew has a significant amount of money left and they are telling me I need to send it all back. I'm really upset about this as my nephew will have nothing when they take the money away. I was trying to be frugal and only spend on what he needed. I am really upset and don't know what to do. My husband is the only one working. We can't afford to take care of my nephew on our own. Disability denied him twice as well even though he is Autistic.

Any advice is appreciated.

Thank you,


Hi Teka. First of all, any funds that you return to Social Security that you've saved from your nephew's benefits wouldn't be forfeited. Social Security requires representative payees to return any conserved funds that remain when they are no longer payee for a person ( Social Security then reissues those funds directly to the beneficiary themselves, assuming that they are legally competent.

Normally, when a child turns age 18 they are assumed to have reached legal age based on federal law. So, it sounds like Social Security is asking you to return the funds you've saved from your nephew's benefits with the intent of reissuing them to your nephew. However, if your nephew has been declared legally incompetent by a court of law, then that would change matters.

It sounds like you should contact Social Security to explain to them your nephew's legal status. They should then be able to clarify your responsibility given the specifics of your situation.

Best, Jerry

Apr 10 2022 - 8:58pm
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