You would be surprised to know that according to the Social Security Administration, there are approximately 4.4 million children who receive $2.5 billion in aid each month.
Children of disabled, retired or deceased parents may receive Social Security benefits, which are intended to help families provide for their children through high school. When a parent dies or becomes disabled, Social Security is given to help the family meet the financial needs of the family. The law also protects unmarried and dependent grandchildren who were being cared for by the deceased, disabled, or elderly.
What children qualify for Social Security? It makes no difference whether your child is adopted, biological, or dependent step children, they maybe eligible if they meet certain requirements.
- Has a parent(s) who is disabled or retired and eligible for Social Security benefits.
- Is unmarried.
- Is younger than 18 years old or up to age 19 if he or she is a full time high school student.
- Is 18 years or older and disabled (as long as the disability began before the individual turned age 22).
How to Receive Benefits
First, the family must present the child’s birth certificate, the parents’ Social Security number and the child’s Social Security number. There may be additional documents required as well. Depending upon the circumstances, the applicant must provide a parent’s death certificate and/or evidence of disability from a doctor.
If your child is disabled, the Social Security Administration has a fact sheet and starter packet to help you navigate the process of receiving benefits. This information will guide you along the path to sign up for and obtain benefits and includes a frequently asked questions section as well.
If you are taking care of a child and are receiving benefits, then his or her benefits may stop at a different time than your own. For example, if the child is not disabled, then the caretaker’s benefits will terminate when the child turns 16 years old. If the child is disabled and you have responsibility and control of the child, then your benefits may continue. For these types of specific circumstances, it’s best to contact the Social Security Administration.
The Social Security benefit for children is an important government tool to help keep families — especially the youngest of the bunch — solvent during times of death and disability. Be sure to check in with the Social Security Benefit Planners in evaluating your own case.
MYTH: Social Security only helps minor children at your death.
You probably know that Social Security can provide benefits to children, but if you’re like most people, you believe that this can only happen if you die. That’s not the way it works, though.
Social Security was set up in 1935 to protect Americans, including their
children, through a paid insurance program known as FICA. That’s what the FICA taxes that come out of your paycheck each month are paying for. This program provides financial assistance in cases of disability, at retirement and at death.
If a parent – or in some cases, a guardian grandparent – is caring for a minor child or children and is receiving retirement or disability benefits through Social Security, the children may be eligible to also receive benefits. They may qualify for benefits if their parent or guardian dies as well.
In all three situations, the biological, adopted or dependent step-children may be able to receive benefits until they turn 18 – or longer, if they haven’t finished high school. Children with disabilities can continue receiving benefits for even longer.
The amount of benefits a child can receive varies but can be up to 75% the amount the deceased parent would collect from Social Security. A family limit applies when there are multiple children surviving the parent. This “family cap” is usually between 150% and 180% of the parent’s full benefit. No matter how many children are eligible to receive benefits, the total amount cannot exceed the family limit.
In cases where one parent passes away, a non-working parent or one who earns less that $16,920 per year may also receive additional Social Security family benefits until the child reaches age 16. Again, if the child is disabled, these benefits can continue beyond that age for the adult who exercises parental control and responsibility for the disabled child.
Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.
There are 4.3 million families that currently receive Social Security benefits to help support their children, but many more are eligible and don’t even know they could be getting additional income each month. Qualifying for this benefit has little to do with the children – it’s based on the parents’ status. (Disabled children may be able to collect Supplemental Security Income benefits based on their condition. They may also qualify for the benefits described in this article but the rules are slightly different.)
In a nutshell, Social Security benefits for children are designed to replace the income that is no longer provided by a parent who has retired, died or become disabled and therefore cannot work. The retired, deceased or disabled parent must have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security and the child must be unmarried and under 18 or a full-time student. Benefits end on the child’s 18th birthday, unless he or she is a full time high school student. In that case, benefits continue until graduation or two months after the child’s 19th birthday, whichever comes first.
Social Security benefits for children can be paid to a parent, step-parent, grandparent or another person who cares for the child (but the benefits may stop earlier in this case). The amount received each month depends on the specifics of the situation and the retired, deceased or disabled parent’s work history. In general, benefits are up to 50% of the full amount of a parent’s disability or retirement benefit or as much as 75% of the amount a deceased parent would have received. If other family members also receive Social Security benefits, a family cap on the amount received applies.
If you think you might qualify for Social Security income for a child in your care, contact our firm today. We’ll help you find out about any financial benefits you may be entitled to and complete the filing process so you can start receiving that income each month.