SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1609. What is the usual order of preference in selecting a payee for a beneficiary under age 18?

The usual order of preference in selecting a payee for a beneficiary under age 18 is:

  1. A natural or adoptive parent who has custody of the beneficiary, or a court-appointed legal guardian;

  2. A natural or adoptive parent who does not have custody of the beneficiary but who demonstrates strong concern for the beneficiary's well-being;

  3. A relative or stepparent who has custody of the beneficiary;

  4. Any one of the following:

    1. A friend with custody who provides for the beneficiary's needs; or

    2. A relative or close friend who does not have custody of the beneficiary but who demonstrates concern for the beneficiary's well-being; or

    3. An authorized social agency or custodial institution.

Last Revised: Nov. 16, 2010