Q. The father of my 12-year old daughter is receiving SSI. When we lived together, I believe he got benefits for having a dependent. He has never spent a dime on her. We’ve been separated for 4 years, with him not having any contact with her or paying any child support of any type. Can I find out if he’s still receiving benefits for a dependent?


 A. Is your child’s father receiving SSI or Social Security? The names are somewhat similar, but the two are very different.

SSI is Supplementary Security Income. It is an assistance benefit payable to aged, disabled or blind individuals with little or no income. SSI does not provide a dependent benefit.

Social Security is a wage replacement benefit payable to disabled or retired wage earners or to the surviving dependents of deceased wage earners based on earnings from which Social Security FICA taxes were withheld. An additional benefit is payable on behalf of the wage earner’s dependent children under age 18 (19 if still in high school). The law requires that any Social Security dependent child benefit payable on a parent’s Social Security earnings record must be spent on the dependent child.

If you have reason to believe your child’s father is receiving a dependent benefit for his daughter, contact the Social Security Administration. You can call 1-800-772-1213 or your local office. Ask that an appointment be made for you. For the appointment, you will need the father’s full name and Social Security account number and your daughter’s birth certificate or other verification of paternity. You will want to ask that the Social Security Administration make you representative payee so that the child’s benefit can be sent directly to you to be used for the child.