If You Are Young and Lose a Parent

Social Security is here for young people when a parent passes away. We know that the loss of a parent isn’t just emotionally painful; it can be devastating to a family’s finances. In the same way that Social Security helps to lift up the disabled and elderly when they need it, we support families when an income-earning parent dies.

In 2017, we distributed an average of $2.6 billion each month to benefit about 4.2 million children because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired, or deceased. Those dollars help to provide the necessities of life and help make it possible for those children to complete high school.

You might ask, who can get child’s benefits? Your unmarried child can get benefits if they’re:

  • Younger than age 18;
  • 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
  • 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.

To get benefits, a child must have:

  • A parent who’s disabled or retired and entitled to Social Security benefits; or
  • A parent who died after having worked long enough in a job where they paid Social Security taxes.

Benefits stop when your child reaches age 18 unless your child is a student or disabled.

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, he or she can get up to 75 percent of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit.

There is a limit to the amount of money that we can pay to a family. This family maximum 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, we reduce each person’s benefit proportionately (except the parent’s) until the total equals the maximum allowable amount.

Children with disabilities may also be eligible for benefits. You can read more about Benefits for Children with Disabilities.

Social Security is securing today and tomorrow, protecting our future and the next generation.

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203 thoughts on “If You Are Young and Lose a Parent

  1. I already received my direct deposit stimulus check however I didn’t get my $500 dependent grandchild stimulus. I did a non filers part to claim that 500 before even the second deadline. In the meantime they sent out a paper check to my deceased daughter for hers in which I didn’t open and sent back immediately and I’m assuming since she claimed her daughter on 2019 taxes she received a $500 stimulus as well. When can I expect the $500 stimulus part for my granddaughter?

  2. My mom dies 15 years ago, when I was only 14 and my little brother was 4. We were in foster care and never received any money. She was receieving monthly SSI benefits. Is there anyway to still file to receive that money?? T.I.A.

    • Hi Amanda, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. The law does not allow Social Security to pay most minor children their Social Security benefits directly, they must have a representative payee. A representative payee can be a person or an organization. A payee’s main duties are to use the benefits to pay for the current and future needs of the beneficiary, and properly save any benefits not needed to meet current needs. A payee must also keep records of expenses. When we request a report, a payee must provide an accounting to us of how he or she used or saved the benefits. Check out our Representative Payee web page for more details.

  3. If I have custody of a 13 yr old who receives survivor benefits from her father. Then her birth mother died a few weeks ago. What do I need to do?; The mother was receiving survivor benefits from the father also. Thank you.

    • Hi Edgar. The children may be eligible for survivor benefits if their parent earned enough Social Security credits through work. Unmarried children who are under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits when a parent dies.

      Check out our Survivors Planner for more details.

  4. My granddaughter is receiving death benefit SS from her moms death..she will be 18 July 29 2020 but will be going on to college right after HS graduation, will she still be able to receive her death benefit SS check then?

  5. My kids dad passed away Feb.14, 2020.My oldest is 20. My youngest son is 18 nd still in school but is still under his real custioan mother. Is the widow of his dad responsibleto get his social security without the biologicalmother

    • Hi Chanda, we are very sorry for your loss. Please advise your son, who can apply for himself, to contact Social Security to inquire about potential benefits. He can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or he can contact his local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  6. I’m 16 and I receive SS survivor benefits from my mom who passed away 10 years ago. My father gets them. I am moving in with my 28 year old sister and want to find out if she can get them instead and how this would work or what we should do. Can my dad keep them even though I don’t live with him?
    My sister and I could really use that money.

    • Hi Bella, thanks for using our blog. Your representative payee receives your payments for you and must use the money to pay for your current needs. To make a representative payee change, your sister will need to contact her local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  7. I became a victim of ssa insider payment fraud proven by 2 attorneys and by 2 Maryland supervisors 3 months after my husband died when 3 unentitled people collected payments illegally from ssa… Per Baltimore Maryland appeals division and an attorney employed in the office of the CHIEF COUNSEL TO SOCIAL SECURITY A BLACK FEMALE EMPLOYED IN CHAMBERSBURG PA.. DID TO WIT ILLEGALLY SWITCH SS RECORDS TO REDUCE ALL CHILD PAYMENTS AND WIDOW AWARD AND THEN SHE ILLEGALLY CHANGED THE FAMILY MAX TO MARCH LOWEST CHILD PAYMENTS.. THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS DISAPPEARED AND IT WAS DEEMED ILLEGAL RECORD TAMPERING TO SUDDENLY PAY CHILDREN FROM MY WIDOW SEPARATE DISABILITY LOW RECORD RATHER THAN DECEASED HIGHEST RECORD… AS OF THIS DATE BALTIMORE MARYLAND APPEALS DIVISION CONFIRMED ALL DECEASED SURVIVOR PAYMENTS REMAIN UNPAID AND YEARLY ACCOUNTING RECORDS I OBTAINED AND 3 BANK RECORDS PROVE MY ALLEGATION 100%TRUE…THEN THE BLACK THIIEF MAGGIE JAMES ATTACHED MY DEAD HUSBAND’S SOCIAL TO MY DISABILITY RECORD TO FURTHER CONCEAL WHAT SHE DID AND SHE CREATED A FAKE NEW FAMILY MAX WHICH ONLY APPLIES TO MINOR CHILDREN… SHE BRAGGED TO ME OF HER INTENT TO COMMIT FRAUD REDUCING ALL PAYMENTS AND SHE REFUSED TO PAY ME MY ENTITLED AWARD OF 1300.0P MONTHLY WHILE EACH CHILD WAS REDUCED FROM ENTITLED APPROVED SUMA OF 1200.00 EACH CHILD TO ONLY 726.00 EACH CHILD IN MARCH 2002..THEN JAMES ROLAND PHELPS WHO DID NOT SUPPORT MY MINOR CHILDREN WHO WAS RESIDING AT 5909 LINTHICUM LANE IN LINTHICUM MARYLAND 21090 SUDDENLY COLLECTED 990.00 EVERY MONTH WHICH WAS MY WIDOW MONEY UNPAID TO ME. WHY?? HE DID NOT LIVE IN MY HOME AND BY LAW NO LONGER OWNED MY HOME BECAUSE I INHERITED MY HOME IN OCTOBER 1998 WITHOUT MORTGAGE FROM MY WEALTHY MOTHER AS PART OF AN EARLY PARTIAL INHERITANCE.. 2 OTHER PEOPLE ILLEGALLY COLLECTED SURVIVOR PAYMENTS FROM MY DEAD HUSBAND’S RECORD. PER BANK OF AMERICA PER MERCHANT AND TRUST BANK AND PER DELEWARE TEUST BANK AND ALL 3 BANKS GAVE ME THE EVIDENTIARY DOCUMENTS TO PROVE MT SOCIAL AND BIRTHDATE WAS ON A YOUNG FEMALE DRIVER LUCENSE. SHE RESIDED AT 1967 STRATHMORE PLACE IN PERKUNGIE PA. USING MY NAME PAMELA PHELPS KIMMELL PER MERCHANT AND TRUST BANK WHO HANDED ME A COPY OF HER DRIVER LUCENSE AND HER BANK RECORDS TO PROVE IT AN UNKNOWN MINOR CHILDS SS NUMBER WAS PRINTED ON MY 3 SONS YEARLY BENEFIT STATEMENTS ILLEGALLY COLLECTING MONEY FROM MY DEAD HUSBAND TOO… IT 2AS A CRIMINAL ACT INVOLVING JAMES BREEN MAGGIE JAMES AND KURT WEINACHT WHO ALSO THREATENED 2 SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICES IN MARYLAND TO BACK OFF AND SHUR UP AND NEVER HWLP ME TO COLLECT MY BACK OWED MONEY… IT’S ALL BEEN PROVEN AS FRAUD BY CHAMBERSBURG PA SSA EMPLOYEES.. I TAPE RECORDED MAGGIE JAMES THREATENING ME TO SHUT UP AND OF HER INTENT TO ROBB MY SONS AND I OF HIGHEST AWARDS.. PER SSA EMPLOYEE ATTORNEY JOSEPH MORAN WHO ALSO VALIDATED MY ALLEGATIONS SSA IS OVLIGATED TO PAY ME HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN BACK OWED MONEY NOW…. MAGGIE JAMES I AM TOLD WAS FIRED FROM SSA FOR INSIDER THEFT FRAUD LIES AND ILLEGALLY DISOBEYING SUNSHINE LAWS AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT… THE SSA ACCOUNTING RECORDS WERE HANDED TO ME BY GLEN BURNIE MARYLAND TO LASTLY PROVE ALL SURVIVOR MONEY WAS PEIBTED TO BE UNCLAIMED UNPAID AND RETURNED TO SSA YEARLY FROM NOV 2001 TO PRESENT.. *** – ** – *** WAS WILLIAM F KIMMELL SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER HE WAS BORN 2 2 1957 AND MY SS NUMBER IS *** – ** – *** AND MY DISABILITY RECORD WAS SEPARATE FROM MY HUSBAND’S. THE FAKE NEW FAMILY MAX CREATED BY MAGGIE JAMES MATCHED BANK OF AMERICA RECORDS OF JAMES ROLAND PHELPS WHO ILLEGALLY COLLECTED 990 A MONTH FROM MY DEAD HUSBAND’S RECORD IN MARCH /APRIL 2092.. I WANT MY MONEY OWED TO ME AND TO MY 3 SONS ASAP.. FRAUD FUNDS TERRORISM AND ALL 3 EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE PROSECUTED AND IN PRISON FOR MALICIOUS INTENTIONAL FRAUD AFTER MARYLAND PROCESSED ALL SURVIVOR PAYMENTS WITH LETTERS TO PROVE IT… PAMELA PHELPS KIMMELL FORMER FED MYSELF… 2143 WOOD STREET APT. B IN LATROBE PA 15650…MY HUSBAND AND I AND MY 3 MINOR SONS ALL RESIDED AT 1151 OLIVE DRIVE IN GREENCASTLE PA. 17225 FOR 13 YEARS… NO OTHER MINOR CHILD EXISTED AND NO X WIFE QUALIFIED UNDER THE 10 YEAR MARITAL RULE.

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