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Question about mis-managing social security disability for a child with Autism.

My sister get social security disability for her autistic daughter and has been using the funds in a questionable manner over the last few months. The funds are for use by the parent or guardian for the benefit of the child who is recieving the benefits. It is not to be used for rent, car payments, or any living expenses. It is to be used for ONLY the needs of the child relating to her disablity, such as in her case for therapy and special education equipment. It can be used for car repairs if the car repaired is used to drive her to doctor's appointments and therapy sessions relating to her disability. This is stated clearly in the social security's internet information on disability funding.

In the last two months, my sister has taken funds out to buy gifts and decorations for her other daughter's birthday party, and to go clothes shopping for herself multiple times. She is now talking about using the funds to buy a "therapy" dog. She wants a dog for her son, but can't afford it. If she gets a "therapy" dog, all its vet bills and food can be deducted from the fund, as well as training and the dog itself. Not only does her autistic daughter HATE dogs, she is terrified of them and throws things at them whenever she sees one. My sister is willing to bring a dog into this situation to let her son have one. Oh, by the way, they had three dogs before at various times and they all got "lost". They have also been though several cats, who all ended up being given away after a few months.

My niece is severely autistic, and will never be able to care for herself. She has been in therapy for several years, and can only say a few very hard to understand words. This money is meant to be used FOR HER, and it makes me so upset to think of my sister wearing new clothes bought with the money meant for her. Social security almost never reviews cases for child disabilities unless a complaint is made. I am thinking about sending an anonymous complaint in, but don't want my sister to get in trouble ( though she deserves to).

For those who think it isn't my business, I love my niece and want to protect her interests, if even from her own mother. If I report her and they invesigate, my niece will not lose the funds. I have already looked into that. My sister will lose access to the account the funds are in, and a liason will be put in charge of them instead. Or the funds will be monitored and my sister will have to provide documentation for everything she spends them on ( best case ).

Would you say something, either to my sister or to SS ? Keep in mind she is very single minded and to her the funds are for HER own use to care for her whole family. She doesn't seem to understand how it works, and won't even listen to a lawyer about it.....

 
Anonymous

Asked by Anonymous at 1:20 PM on Mar. 30, 2011 in General Parenting

This question is closed.
Answers (9)
  • if you want to get technical, your sister can use a percentage of the money to pay for rent, utilities,food,clothes anything that your neice uses that is part of the whole, if it is her, her brother and mom, your sister can use the money to pay 1/3 of the expenses incurred by the household FOR EVERYTHING. I'll bet your sister spends some of her own money on her child as well. WE have a debit card that my son's ssi is dumped on every month, we do not have any other bank cards so I use his when I want to pay a bill online, or need a debit card for something, If your neice is as disfunctional as you say, SSI will help her as she ages out of the child disability and into adult disability....when you see youe neice going without basic care, then make the call, other than that stay out of it
    shivasgirl

    Answer by shivasgirl at 1:39 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • I have a son with autism and received SSI for a number of years for him. I was told by someone at SSI that I could use the funds to buy a car - if it would make my son more comfortable (ie buying a van so he had more personal space rather than the car I was driving), buy him a new bedroom suit, take him out to supper, etc. It doesn't have to be directly for therapy, it's to be used "for his benefit" and that includes clothing, food, etc.
    You do know that the money can't be saved, because if she puts the money into a savings account and it grows to over 2K, she WILL lose the benefits?
    missanc

    Answer by missanc at 1:29 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • You CAN use the money to pay rent, purchase vehicles, and such. Also, perhaps she is spending other money on the child that you are not seeing, and is using the SSI to pay other things.. nothing wrong with that. I think you are sticking your nose into her business a tad bit too much.
    xxlilmomma09

    Answer by xxlilmomma09 at 1:34 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • You also have to understand that a mom of a severely autistic child usually cannot work. She has to stay home to be with the child. So the money is to supplement the lost income.
    I would lay off. Frankly, having a severely autistic child is a LOT to handle. Be fortunate you are not in her shoes. She has enough to worry about without you starting a war over how she is using the SSI.
    Inloveagain

    Answer by Inloveagain at 1:34 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • As long as the childs needs are being met then I would not say or do anything. If it is indeed a problem SSI will catch on. They can audit receipts at random.
    But_Mommie

    Answer by But_Mommie at 1:40 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • If you truly feel that the money is not being used in your niece's best interest, then report. You may find that you've misinterpreted things... in which case that's a weight off your shoulders. Or one of the other options you've outlined will come to pass... and again, the weight is off your shoulders.
    gdiamante

    Answer by gdiamante at 1:32 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • According to SS's web site, the funds CANNOT be used for ANYTHING other than for the benefiting child's disablility. Rent does not count, cars do not count, phones do not count. Nothing but things that DIRECTLY go towards things she need for her disability. Such as speech therapy and counseling to deal with her emotional problems. Her funds go into a dedicated bank account and can't be mixed with other funds. My sister does stay at home, but is getting child support from the Dad, living free with our parents, and is on state assistance for food and clothing. As for the money not being able to be saved ( I did know that ) does that mean she gets to spend it on herself? I don't think so. If there is "extra" money after the time expires it should go towards additional therapy. She only has speech therapy once a week and she can't TALK at all!! She needs more therapy, and if the money is there it should be going towards that!
    Anonymous

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 2:23 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • putting a roof over their head is important and when my dd was on ssi for her autism/aspergers you bet I applied her check towards the rent. I was a single mom doing it all on my own. The school district paid for her therapy. Now if a parent goes out and takes the check and buys a pound of weed to sell and double their money then that should be reported.
    wheresthewayout

    Answer by wheresthewayout at 2:44 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • our case worker told us that we can use the above mentioned formula to decide how his money is spent. We have 5 people in out family and as his benefit is determined by that we can use his money to contribute to 1/5 of the rent, car payment, phone, utilities and food. If we go to Disney World, we can use his money to pay for his share of the expenses. This is his money to help him, it wold not help him if he didnt have a roof over his head or food in his mouth. Entertaining him is also part of caring for him., are we supposed to say, "Sorry Jay, you cant come to the circus with us cuz your money cant be spent on that and we cant afford it" ...cut your sister some slack and stay out of her business, if she is doing something wrong believe me, SS will get her, they are so far up our ass all the time it isnt even funny
    shivasgirl

    Answer by shivasgirl at 5:38 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

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