Social Security Benefits for Children

While many people may only think of Social Security as just a provider of retirement income, in reality, this program offers a number of other financial benefits that can be accessed by qualifying adults and / or their dependent children.

In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, there are more than 4 million children who receive benefits because either one or both of their parents are deceased, retired, or disabled. A child who is disabled may also qualify for these benefits.

Social Security Benefits for Children

What Types of Social Security Benefits Are Children Eligible For?

A child will be eligible for Social Security benefits if they have a parent or parents who is either disabled or retired, or if a parent has passed away after working long enough in a job where they paid Social Security taxes.

If the parent is receiving disability or retirement benefits from Social Security, then a child (or children) may receive up to half of the amount of these payments. Should a parent (or parents) be deceased, then a child could receive survivors benefits. The amount of this can be up to 75% of his or her parent’s basic Social Security benefit.

The child can qualify for these benefits if they are the biological son or daughter of the Social Security enrollee. They may also be qualified if they are an adopted child or a dependent stepchild. In some cases, Social Security benefits may also be based on a grandparent’s or a step-grandparent’s work earnings.

When more than one person in a family is receiving benefits from Social Security, there is a maximum amount that can be obtained. This “family maximum” will range from 150 to 180% of the parent’s full benefit. Therefore, a child’s Social Security benefit could be reduced in its amount if the total amount that is being received by the family exceeds these percentages. (The amount of the parents’ benefit, however, will not be reduced).

How to Get Social Security Benefits for Children?

In order to obtain Social Security benefits for children, the child must also be younger than age 18 and be unmarried. However, benefits may be received by children who are up to the age of 19 if they are a full-time student – up to the 12th grade. A child may also qualify for Social Security benefits if they are age 18 or over and they are disabled – provided that their disability began before he or she turned age 22.

To apply for a child’s benefits from Social Security, an application must be completed either at a local Social Security office, or online via the Social Security administration’s website. The Social Security numbers of the child’s parents will be required, as is the child’s birth certificate.

If applying for a child’s survivor’s benefits from Social Security, additional information may be needed, such as proof of the parent’s death. Likewise, in order to complete the application for children’s Social Security disability benefits, medical proof of the disability will also be needed.

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