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.