Question: In March 2013, I retired at age 62 and began collecting Social Security. My youngest son was 15 at the time, and the Social Security Administration requested a direct deposit account be set up for him to receive his support payments from SSA.

In December, I filled out paperwork to continue my son’s support through his high school graduation in May. When he turned 18 this February, SSA began sending his support checks directly to him. The direct deposit account now has about $10,000 in it. But we received a letter from the SSA saying that we have to return the funds in the account. I have never heard of SSA asking for the return of these funds. We became suspicious that the letter might be a scam.

Our banker, accountant and attorney all say the letter is a scam. Have you ever heard of this?

Ric: Indeed, the letter is legitimate.

When a parent begins to receive Social Security benefits, their children under 18 are also eligible for benefits. The money is sent to a special account you establish and control.

When the minor turns 18, you receive a letter stating that the child’s Social Security check will be paid directly to the child and that any money saved from previous checks needs to be transferred to Social Security’s “conserved funds” program to be disbursed directly to the child as well. You can request that Social Security pay the money in installments rather than a lump sum.

What’s not mentioned in the letter you got, however, is the option to transfer the money directly to the child without going through the “conserved funds” process. Call SSA at 800-SSA-1213 and reference the claim number on your letter, or you can visit your local SSA office to implement the change.

Sorry that your bank, accountant, and attorney were unaware of this.