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Texas couple raising grandchildren relieved after benefits scare

Texas parents who receive financial assistance to cover the costs of raising their children tend to rely heavily on those funds, whether they come from the government or a former spouse in the form of child support. When those payments stop coming, it's natural for parents to panic and worry about how their expenses will be covered.

The same is true for grandparents who are raising their children's children. Regardless of the reason they've taken on that responsibility, it is not to be underestimated. Many grandparents raising children are retired and on a modest, fixed income. Money for growing children's clothes, food, education and health care may be very hard to come by. They might also have extra legal challenges if they haven't formally adopted the children.

A couple living in Mesquite, Texas, knows this struggle all too well. They're raising their three young grandchildren, ages 5, 7 and 9, as if they were their own children. To get by, they rely on financial help from the state. So there was understandable panic when they received a letter from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission four days before Christmas, telling them that their benefits were being denied. Someone had reported that the children were no longer living in the home, and since the state couldn't say who had filed that report, the couple would have to reapply for benefits.

The couple tried for weeks to get more information and reclaim their benefits, including health insurance. Although they have legal custody, like many grandparents raising children, they hadn't formally adopted them, so the children weren't able to legally make use of the couple's own health care plan. Finally, they learned that the state had made an error on a form and should never have denied the benefits. The family is back on secure footing again, hopeful that such an error doesn't affect other Texas families.

When events like this happen, it can be agonizing to try to get answers, let alone the necessary financial and legal help. This is where a family law attorney can come in handy. Someone who knows the state's laws when it comes to family benefits may be able to navigate for you and resolve problems before they grow even bigger, causing additional hardship for you and your family.

Source: KHOU, "Human error blamed for denied benefits letter that panicked Texas grandma," Teresa Woodard, Jan. 9, 2013

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