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Guardianship and government benefits

Many children, particularly special needs children, are eligible for a variety of government benefits at both the state and federal levels. For several reasons, these young residents of Massachusetts may need to have another adult, aside from their parents, take responsibility over them and give them the care and support they need. Sometimes a grandparent or other relative can work toward setting up a guardianship through the Massachusetts courts in order to get legal authority to have custody over a minor child and handle that child’s financial affairs.

While oftentimes a child does not have a lot of assets for a legal guardian to manage, one thing guardians frequently do have to be responsible for is managing government benefits, like disability payments from the Social Security Administration, on the child’s behalf. This is a very important responsibility, as a child will often at some point in his or her life require these benefits to have financial security and get the services that they need.

On a related point, guardians may also have to be responsible for attending to a child’s involvement in state-funded or federally funded health insurance programs so that the child gets appropriate medical and therapeutic care. Similarly, guardians may also be responsible for collecting the child support to which the child is entitled.

The key for a guardian to remember is that these benefits are for the child and not necessarily the guardian. As such, cash payments should be held for the child’s benefit; they are not to be treated as compensation for the guardian’s services.

Still, navigating through the world of a government benefits can be hard on an adult who has lovingly stepped in to assist a child. An attorney experienced with guardianships can provide helpful advice to Springfield residents in this situation.