Social Security Myth #4: Only Minor Children Get Benefits When You Die.

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.

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