If a parent is disabled or retired and is entitled to Social Security benefits, or if a parent has died who has worked long enough at a job where they paid Social Security taxes, your child may be eligible for benefits.
Who can get child’s benefits?
Your unmarried child can get benefits if they’re:
In some instances, they can also pay these benefits to a grandchild, step-grandchild, stepchild or an adopted child. To receive these benefits, a child must have:
What you’ll need when you apply for child’s benefits
When you apply for benefits for your child, you’ll need the child’s birth certificate and the parent’s and child’s Social Security numbers. Depending on the type of benefit involved, other documents may be required. For example, if you’re applying for survivors benefits for the child, you’ll need to furnish proof of the parent’s death. If you’re applying for benefits for a disabled child, you’ll need to furnish medical evidence to prove the child’s disability. The Social Security representative who sees you will tell you what other documents you may need. When the child reaches the age of 18, their benefits will stop unless they are a student or disabled.
If your child is a student
Three months before your child’s 18th birthday, they will send a notice to you letting you know that benefits will end when your child turns 18. Benefits don’t end if your child is a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school. If your child is younger than 19 and still attending a secondary or elementary school, they must notify them.
They must complete a statement of attendance certified by a school official. The benefits will then usually continue until your child graduates, or until two months after reaching age 19, whichever comes first.
If your child is disabled
Benefits will continue at age 18 to a child who’s disabled. Childhood disability benefits are also payable after reaching age 18, if the disability began before age 22.
If you take care of a child
If you’re receiving benefits because you have a child in your care, the date your benefits stop can be different than the child’s. If the child isn’t disabled, your benefits will end when they turn 16.
If the child is disabled, your benefits can continue if you exercise parental control and responsibility for a mentally disabled child. Your benefits can also continue if you perform personal services for a child who’s physically disabled. Before the child reaches 16, we’ll send a notice to you describing the conditions under which your benefits can continue.
How much can a family get?
Within a family, a child can receive up to half of the parent’s full retirement or disability benefit. If a child receives survivors benefits, they can get up to 75 percent of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit. There is a limit, however, to the amount of money that they can pay to a family. The family maximum payment is determined as part of every Social Security benefit computation.
It can be from 150 to 180 percent of the parent’s full benefit amount. If the total amount payable to all family members exceeds this limit, they reduce each person’s benefit proportionately (except the parent’s) until the total equals the maximum allowable amount.