If You Are Young and Lose a Parent
Last Updated: September 13, 2018
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.