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Elderly guardians struggle to get aid

Older residents of Georgia raising young children may face difficulty getting federal aid in getting the needed financial support. Whether the children are biological grandchildren or for some other reason are under their guardianship, elderly parents may find it difficult and frustrating when trying to file an initial disability claim for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income.

One couple in their early 70s expressed dismay that they could not get Supplemental Security Income for the two children they raise, ages 8 and 12. The couple is on Social Security and has no other means of income. They would like to have more money to care for their children, but have been given contradicting information from a Social Security Administration office. Over the phone, they were told they were eligible, but when they went to the office in person, they were told they did not qualify.

While Supplemental Security Income's purpose is to provide aid for children, more specifically it is to give monetary aid to low-income children who are also blind or disabled, said a SSA spokeswoman. The amount of monthly aid varies from state to state.

If the children are not disabled, they may qualify for Social Security in other circumstances. If the parent or parents are deceased, the children may be due benefits depending on the deceased parent's work record.

If the children were adopted, they could qualify based on the adoptive parents' work record. If the children are simply under guardianship, they may not qualify. Children who have been legally adopted can get benefits based on the parents' work history.

While the federal government created the social safety net to help support the country's most vulnerable residents, the laws and regulations surrounding it can be extremely complicated. Enlisting the help of an experienced attorney could help struggling residents get the answers they need.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Guardians eye youths' Social Security status," Janet Kidd Stewart, Dec. 23, 2011

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