Children May Be Entitled To Social Security Benefits

Were you aware that when an adult is receiving Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits, their child or children may also be eligible to receive benefits?  There are certain guidelines SSA uses to determine if children of a wage earner may qualify for benefits and this article will address some of them.

Requirements for entitlement to child’s benefits

If you have a child that is unmarried, younger than 18, between 18 and 19 years old and in elementary or secondary school as full-time student, they may qualify for additional monthly benefits.

Also, if a child is age 18 or older and has a qualifying disability and that disability started before age 22, they can also be eligible for an additional monthly benefit.

There are certain circumstances that benefits can also be paid to stepchildren, a grandchild, step-grandchild, or an adopted child.  These childhood benefits can sometimes need further development by SSA as well as a special determination. 

SSA Uses Certain Policies Regarding The Amount Of A Child’s Benefit

If a primary wage earner, such as a parent, is living and receiving retirement or disability Social Security benefits, a child can qualify for up to 50% of an additional benefit amount based on the wage earner’s own primary monthly amount. 

If a primary wage earner, again such as a parent, is deceased and was qualified to receive Social Security benefits, a child can qualify for up to 75% of a monthly benefit amount based on the wage earner’s own primary monthly amount at time of death.

There Is A Family Maximum Benefit Provision

Each wage earner has their own unique Social Security earnings record.  Based on how much a wage earner has contributed towards their earnings record, there is a limit to the total amount of money that can be paid to the wage earner and family. The limit can vary but is generally equal to about 150% to 180% of the wage earner’s monthly Social Security benefit.  This total amount of benefits is known as the Family Maximum.  Depending on how many dependents may qualify for monthly benefits, they may not always qualify for the 50% or 75% monthly amount based on the wage earners own monthly amount.  The wage earner always qualifies for their own monthly benefit and the balance of the benefits is shared amongst all other individuals, such as all the children, and that completes the Family Maximum payable from that record.

What About A Child With A Disability

A child who is receiving benefits as a minor child on a parent’s Social Security record may be eligible to continue receiving benefits on that parent’s record upon reaching age 18, if they are determined to have a disability.  Social Security makes a medical determination using the disability rules for adults at age 18.  The Social Security Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits continue as long as that child has a disability throughout adulthood.  An adult child doesn’t need to have worked in order to get these benefits.

Can A Child Receive Their Own Checks?

Only a person who is considered by SSA to be an adult, a person over age 18 and determined to be mentally competent can be paid directly by SSA.  A qualified adult must be appointed by Social Security to be a minor’s Representative Payee.  This Representative Payee is responsible for receiving the monthly benefit and using the funds on behalf of the child for personal needs.  It is often also found that Disabled Adult Children (DAC) may also need a Representative Payee.  These Representative Payee’s are held accountable by SSA for using all of a child or adult’s monthly benefit primarily for food, shelter and clothing needs.  Other personal needs are possible allowable expenditures with SSA’s knowledge.  Only SSA can appoint a Representative Payee.

A Younger Parent May Also Qualify For Benefits

Social Security benefits are also payable to a spouse if the spouse is age 62 or older or at any age if they are caring for the wage earner’s child.  The child must be younger than age 16 or have a disability and entitled to Social Security benefits on the wage earners record.