We issued this report determine whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) had adequate controls to ensure it did not improperly suspend mother/father or spousal beneficiaries who had a child in their care.
A mother/father or spouse can be entitled to benefits under the child-in-care provisions of the Social Security Act. Entitlement to mother/father or spousal benefits requires that a wage earner’s entitled child be in their care and under age 16 or disabled. SSA defines "in care" as exercising parental control and being responsible for the child’s welfare and care.
For children under age 16, this generally means the parent must live in the same household as the child. If the child leaves the parent’s care, SSA must suspend the mother/father or spousal benefits. However, a child may live in a separate household while mother/father or spousal benefits continue if the parent is still responsible for the child’s welfare.
From SSA’s Master Beneficiary Record (MBR), we identified 5,793 mother/father and spousal beneficiaries whose benefits SSA suspended for no child in care; however, they were serving as representative payees for 8,425 child beneficiaries.