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Social Security - Survivors Benefits - College age kids - WTF?

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Sydnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:12 PM
Original message
Social Security - Survivors Benefits - College age kids - WTF?
Let me start by stating that SS Survivor benefits is what enabled me to attend college and have a place to live while doing so. At the time, I received a check for $300 a month to help with my expenses. It wasn't enough to cover everything, so I always had a job too, as well as selling plasma twice a week for a bit of pocket money. But, clearly, if it weren't for that benefit check, I would have not been able to stay in college.

Having said that, here is my current question, in hopes some of you can help me find the answers and give some advice on how to change this back to the way it was before.

My room mate's son - his father is dying of cancer. He is currently married to a really whack woman ... a drug addict according to the boys father. He was in the beginning processes of divorcing her when he was diagnosed with a still unknown type of cancer that is not in the bone but rather on the bone ... and spreading quickly. They have ceased treatment at this point and he is in full hospice care. He has 3 kids with his wife, she came to the marriage with one, and then there is my roomies son, who was the first born to him. So, that's 5 kids total who would be eligible for benefits once he has passed.

Looking at the formula for what would be their survivor benefits from SS, the kids would be eligible for 150-180% of his SS income collectively, but only until they reach the age of 18 (19 if they are still in secondary school). Now, he was a real hard worker when he was well, knowing that so many people were dependant on him for support. Over many years, he only paid $65 a week in child support until roomies son was approximately 13, even though it was discovered at that point in time that he was actually earning more than $100,000 a year! At that point, she went back to court and his support was increased to $225 a week for her son. That assured that things were quite a bit more comfortable for her and her son at that point. Once he became ill and began receiving SS disability for himself and the children he has with his wife, her support was automatically dropped to $186 a month by SS, even though no new court order was ever entered, so his arrears are still mounting up as far as the state is concerned. She's not looking for blood from a dying man, so please don't think that is the point of my post. It's not. I just wanted all the facts out on the table.

At the point when he was originally diagnosed, his whack wife came on the phone just after he told my roomie about his illness (and the treatment they were going to undertake) and assured her that the SS benefits they would get after his death would be "substantial" and that they would be ok. She then told my roomie that she would "have to take the youngest child (whack wife's child with him) to raise because I just can't handle her anymore". Now, other than the father being the same for both these children, these two women have really no relationship to speak of, much less one that would indicate that my roomie would be inclined to take in this child at all. But, that is just how cold hearted the whack wife is. She sees his death as a way to make money not as a loss at all. He currently is staying at his mothers house, about 15 minutes away from the house they shared (which should be foreclosed on any day as it is). She rarely comes to visit him or bring the children to see him, unless of course she wants money from him. My roomie, on the other hand, drives the hour each way several times a week, both with her son and with out him, as he seems to be happiest when she is there. She is trying to make his last days as comfortable for him and her son as she can. She knows she will be there to deal with the emotional fallout with her son once he has passed. She does this, even though there seemed to be little time or effort put forth to visit with her son for the 11 years that his child support was so low. His interest and his visits increased a bit once he paid the higher amount. Thank goodness they did, as this boy now has a relationship with his father, and is trying to deal with a loss of something that he had just gained. Not a good emotional place for any of us to be right now.

Anyway, to get to the point of the post. We had begun to check into the survivors benefits for her son as it seems the days are getting less numerous and the hope of a cure is not possible any longer. When looking at these benefits, I was shocked to see that all support would cease when he reached 18/19 and there was no longer any support for this child when he seeks a college degree. When did this change? Why did it change? How can we see that this is addressed and this type of support reinstated? Many of my generation would not have made it were it not for that type of support. How can we stop making this kind of investment in these kids who have fallen on hard times? How can we kick these kids to the back of the line if there is no other way to help them reach their goals at no fault of their own? Who thought this was a good idea and who went along with it?

My roomie and I are both single mothers who share expenses to try to make an ok life for our kids. We don't have large nest eggs, no stable college funds ... heck some months we are mugging Paul to pay off Peter, just to keep the house running. Just how are these kids that are in this situation supposed to continue their education with no safety net, lowered Pell Grants, college loans that will mean that they will be working for a good portion of their post-graduate years just to find themselves in much the same situation as they were when they started .. wondering how they are going to be able to support themselves and meet their obligations?

WTF! What kind of society have we become that we are treating these kids like throw aways instead of giving them a hand up and a safety net of any kind?
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
1. It's what got former Sen. Phil Gram through college then he tried to get rid of the program. nt
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elehhhhna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:18 PM
Response to Original message
2. It changed YEARS ago--
in the 80's it was up to (IIRC) the age of 22 if the child was in college--now it's cut off on the 18th birthday.

I got a few hundred a month as a college student back in the late 70's. It was a huge help.

If roomie takes the minor chid, ss benes will go rightfully to roomie, for the benefit of the child. Let's hope the poor Dad has a will, btw.
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Nite Owl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:24 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. So it was Reagan who did it?
I clearly remember when we went to apply saying to the SS woman something about Reagan cutting them off at 18 and she said it was Carter. I was in no state to argue with her and it was before I was online to research anything either. Anyway I got the feeling that she was a right winger blaming Carter for everything.
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Sydnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. Dad doesn't have anything left to will to anyone
The house that they were purchasing was going into foreclosure before he discovered that he was ill. He was hoping that they would take it and get it off his back. As I stated before, he had begun the process of divorcing her as she had run through all their money (buying drugs according to him) and he was working 80-90 hours a week just to keep body and soul together for the kids. Once he found out he was ill and couldn't work, the people where he worked pooled their sick time and vacation time so he would continue to get a paycheck for several months. They had a fund raiser for him and THEY controlled the money so she didn't take it and blow it. He has a truck that he still owes quite a bit on and they have already repossessed the van that she drove. His friends from work went together to get him a pay as you go phone and support him with minutes for it so he could continue to have a way for the doctors to communicate with him during his treatment. He has a life insurance policy that he has changed the beneficiary over to his sister from the whack wife so that his burial will be paid for and what little will be left once the estate is settled will be divided up among the kids. The current plan is to see that the kids are taken care of with whack wife having as little access to the funds as possible.

Where there some real property to supplement these kids there wouldn't be as dire a need to seek other kinds of assistance. But, there is nothing. And what little there might be, whack wife will probably dispose of to support her own habits.

It's a most sad situation, even more so for their kids then it is for my roomies son. She only has the one to get through college. Whack wife has 4 and I would bet dollars to donuts that college isn't even in the plan for any of those kids. That's sad, isn't it?
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elehhhhna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Yes, it is sad. He has wonderful coworkers and family, though, and
he evidently knows it.

Quite a family there, regardless of the wack wife. Bless ya'll for being there.
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pnwmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. There is actually some good aid out there for students
who have as few resources as your son -- sometimes the private colleges offer the best, especially if the student has good grades and is the kind of student they want to attract. Another option for the first two years is a community college. The average student graduating from a 4 yr. college has more than $20,000 in loans, so if your son has to take loans out, he will be in good company.

If you're in good contact with the sister, encourage her to spend as little as possible on the funeral. Cremation is much less costly than burial. If she decides on cremation, she should give clear directions not to have him embalmed, which can be $1,000 for nothing. They will want the cremation to be carried out quickly after the death, but this can be done. You just have to know to ask for it.

You can have a funeral service with a cremation, either at the funeral parlor or at a church -- or a service that you plan yourself, anywhere.

This is so hard, I know. I'm sorry if I sound cold about this -- but I've been through planning a lot of these. . . Take care.
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Nay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. Unless the whack wife has signed away any rights to the life ins
money, most state laws require that most or all go to the surviving spouse. You might want to check on that. I know that's how it works for Mr. Nay and I--I would have to sign a paper allowing him to designate another beneficiary instead of me. If whack wife is as described, I doubt she would do this.
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Sydnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. In Mass the owner of the policy (in this case it would be him)
can designate who ever they want as the beneficiary and there is nothing she can do about it. He owns the policy and he decides who gets the benefit of it. There's nothing to say that she hasn't contacted one of those TV advertised policy companies and taken out a policy on him herself. That would make HER the owner of the policy and she could do what she wants with it. You know the type of policy I'm talking about ... the ones with no medical check up required, nobody turned down, benefits never decrease ... ;)

He would be required to leave her no more than one single dollar and he would meet the state requirements.
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Nite Owl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:19 PM
Response to Original message
3. My husband passed away in '95
and those were the rules then too. My sons SS stopped when they were 18, mine when the youngest turned 16. When I first went to the SS office they told me stopped under Carter reforms. I don't know if this is true and somehow I think it was more Reagan than Carter but never did the research to find that out.
I couldn't have made it through without the help of the survivor benefits but wish that they would have lasted until 21 or end of college age for my sons.
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Pugee Donating Member (295 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. My hubby died in 1990 and it was in force then.
My kids were 4 & 11. I was always told that it was Reagan's doing to stop benefits at age 18. The only thing that allowed my kids to go to college at all was their veterans benefits which stop at 18, but educational benefits kick in if they are in college.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
4. I've heard that.
One of my younger cousins didn't qualify when he graduated from high school even though he'd already enrolled in a local JuCo.

In my household we'd be better off if my child's father did die. At least we'd get something from SSI or whatever instead of the runaround that we get as to why the state won't prosecute for nonpayment.
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phylla Donating Member (331 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:22 PM
Response to Original message
5. It has been changed for quite a while.
At least 17 years-because I had a similar situation. I stopped receiving mother's benefits when the last child was 16, and but my children received it through high school.
That is it.
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sam sarrha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 01:24 PM
Response to Original message
6. Fascists see Poverty as a Vice, even if they create the poverty
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sinkingfeeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 02:29 PM
Response to Original message
12. Nope, it was Ronnie and the Congress of 1981....

http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/society/socwelf/ss2...

"Phasing out benefits over the next 4 years for students over age 19 or in postsecondary school."

Benefits for full-time students, less than 22 years old, began in 1965 and ended by 1984.


Here's the current stuff.

Who can get survivors benefits based on your work?
Your widow or widower may be able to receive full benefits at age 65 if born before 1940. (The age to receive full benefits is gradually increasing to age 67 for widows and widowers born in 1940 or later.) Reduced widow or widower benefits can be received as early as age 60. If your surviving spouse is disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50. For more information on widows, widowers and other survivors, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ww&os2.htm .
Your widow or widower can receive benefits at any age if she or he takes care of your child who is entitled to a childs benefit and is younger than age 16 or disabled.
Your unmarried children who are under age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time) also can receive benefits. Your children can get benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to your stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children.
Your dependent parents can receive benefits if they are age 62 or older. (For your parents to qualify as dependents, you would have had to provide at least one-half of their support.)

http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10084.html
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Sydnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. THAT is what I have been looking for
I was looking at 1983 reform and didn't see that. So, it was 1981 reform instead. Yet again, Ronnie Raygun rears his ugly head to put the screws to the next generation.

Thank you for locating that for me. I was going in circles looking by myself.
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sallyseven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 02:37 PM
Response to Original message
13. Uncle "sainted" Ronnie did this.
Edited on Mon Nov-27-06 02:42 PM by sallyseven
They also put mothers on guard. When the kid is 16 no benefits for her. President Ronnie was a dirt bag. This was after he threw the disabled off the rolls and then dared them to try and get back on. 90% did but a number of people just died.
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Sydnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 02:42 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. I was just reading about that
I need a good primal scream now. It just outrages me that he did so much damage and no one has addressed it to correct it. :mad:
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TheCentepedeShoes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-27-06 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
17. My dad died when I was 14
and I got benefits up to graduating college, just short of 22. Wasn't much, but took care of room and board, and because tuition and stuff was so much lower back then, I didn't need to work and go to school too. Don't recall the year when the rules changed and the benefits stopped at 18, but I'd venture to guess that's when the war on the middle class started. Sounds like a Raygun idea.
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