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

  1. My mom died January 21st I know she was getting SSI or disability I’m trying to figure out do all her children get a part of that or just the youngest I’m still grieving I have not seen my little brother have a ten-year-old brother he’s keeping him away from us I really don’t know what to do about this situation I really need help

  2. My minor child’s father died unexpectedly in February. I completed the application for survivor benefits and completed the intake appointment on March 5; they told me they had everything they needed. However, I have not received any notices since that day. I tried to call the office on March 13, because there is an error on my application, but with the shutdowns I have not received any calls back. I have a “MySSA” online account, but the application does not show there, and I can’t set up an account for my minor child. Should I call a different number to try to get help with this? I have my application number and everyone’s SS#’s. Thank you for any help you can offer.

    • Hi there. We are very sorry for your loss. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your 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.

  3. My daughter father just passed away and I want to apply for her benefits for her.However other than my child support and Paternity results I do not have his social number.How can I apply without that number and how could i obtain it? Through child support or do I need it?

  4. What can I do if I’m 17 and my mom has been claiming my checks for over a year without me living with her. She just takes the checks and spending them, rather Than give me the money from them.

    • Hi Alexis, thank you for using our blog. As your representative payee, your mom should be keeping records of all payments received and how they are spent or saved.

      If your mother is misusing your benefits, tell Social Security right away. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a decision on whether misuse has occurred. You will receive a letter from Social Security telling you what we found. If we find misuse, Social Security may name a new representative payee for you or send the benefits to you directly. We will then take action to recover the misused money.

      To report misuse, call us at 1-800-772-1213 or you can contact your 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.

  5. My daughter in law passed away April 19th, she left her husband & a 16 yr old son, she didn’t work much in her 38 yrs of life, maybe 6 months all put together and years ago, would her son quality for anything? Than You

  6. Try to help a friend. A friend of mine just passed away. She has a 15 yr old daughter who receives social security benefits from her father passing a few years back. Now that both her mom and dad have passed how does she continue to receive her benefits with her being only 15 and both parents gone? Her mom just passed 3 days ago. She is still living in the same place with her older half brother. Can he get custody and the benefits continue or can she request emancipation from the courts?

    • Hi Keri, thanks for using our blog. We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. Please call us at 1-800-772-1213 or you can contact your 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. My mom died when I was younger like really young and I been living with my grandmother up until that point then she pasted away. Then, I moved with my granddad because it was in my grandmother will that I live with him. So they always tell me when I turn 21 I susposed to receive like quarter million dollars how is that so ?

  8. My son is 20 but his father had unpaid child support. He had no insurance or estate to claim. Will social security pay me the back child support upon his father’s death?

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