Subsidy Series Part 2: Social Security Survivor’s Benefits & Adoption Subsidy

My sister had sole custody of her 10-year-old son, and my sister unexpectedly passed away last month. I am not sure who the dad is, and he has never been involved. I have emergency custody, but I would like to adopt my nephew. Is there any chance there are any resources available to help me?

Barbara’s Answer: YES! There may be a couple of avenues available. First, Social Security Survivor’s Benefits may be available, if your sister met the qualifications.

Second, an adoption subsidy may be available for your nephew. There is a myth that adoption subsidy is only available in public agency adoptions (i.e., adoptions from foster care); however, this is not true. In fact, adoption subsidy is available in many private adoptions. The child may qualify for Title IV-E adoption assistance, which is a federal subsidy program, or for state subsidy. The child may qualify for Title IV-E if he has one or more of the following eligibility factors, which make the child “Difficult-to-place” under Florida law: is 8 years of age or older, is a member of a sibling group of at least 2 being placed together for adoption, has a physical or emotional handicap, is developmentally disabled, or is a member of a racial group that is disproportionately represented among children whose permanent custody has been awarded to the department or to a licensed child-placing agency. If the child qualifies for adoption subsidy, the child should receive monthly maintenance payments, Medicaid, and a one-time non-recurring reimbursement of up to $1,000. These benefits become available upon finalization of the adoption; however, similar to Social Security Survivor’s Benefits, the State must approve the adoption assistance and the Adoption Assistance Agreement must be signed by all parties before the finalization of the adoption, or the benefits will not be available.

You can find additional information regarding Title IV-E and state subsidy in Florida here.

More about Barbara: Barbara’s practice includes representation of birth parents, prospective adoptive parents, and private adoption agencies. Barbara’s vocational experience includes interstate (ICPC) adoption; contested adoption; re-finalization of international adoption (as well as registrations of foreign births); private agency adoption, independent adoption; family member adoption; and adult adoption.

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