Survivors

If You Are Young and Lose a Parent

September 13, 2018 • By

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.


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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

  1. Renee I.

    Good Afternoon, can someone answer the question I posted above under Renee Irvin

  2. John S.

    Hello, I want to claim my two younger siblings who recieve SSI because my father passed away. My mom also receives SSI and I make under 20k a year. Can I claim them? and will me claiming them, and will me claiming them affect their SSI? Thank you

    • Vonda

      Hi John, thanks for using our blog. If you’re asking about claiming your siblings as dependents on your tax return, you will need to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at http://www.irs.gov or by calling their toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040.

  3. hyndrix d.

    hello..i just wanna ask about my situation my father is US citizen he abandoned me after i was born..no anything he given me support in 2010 he wrote me a letter..and he said how are u ..i want to see u ..we see each other im 28years already ..but just like that my mother not married but his signiture in my birthcertifacate and acknowlege me being son..but he died already ..he always in my dream tell me get what is for u before he told me he have insurance if he died..but i dont know how to get how to do who help me about this ..im scared of my stepmom i dont have anything ..i dont power to ask about this im only one my mother is dissable already..i dont know who people help me…please can i have answer if i have rights in death bebifits or insurance…thank you

    • Vonda

      Hi Hyndrix. 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. To inquire about potential benefits, you can call 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.

  4. Barbara E.

    Hi. I have raised my gran daughter since she was 4. We don’t know who her father is and her mother passed away. She has received SS from her mother. She just turned 15 and wants to be immancipated. Will she be able to continue to get her SS? She is still not old enough to have a bank acct. on her own.

    • Vonda

      Hi Barbara, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. Your granddaughter would still be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits. If she becomes emancipated, she should call her local 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. miles m.

    ok so my dad died when i was 12 i moved out my aunts and to my brothers at 13 and my brother was taking care of me till i was 18 i found out about my social security at 17 and received until i was 18 is there any way i can recieve backpay for the years i was not living with my aunt and she received my benifits

    • Vonda

      Hi Miles, thanks for using our blog. If your aunt was your representative payee, then she was required to keep records of all payments received and how they were spent or saved. Usually, Social Security will send a “Representative Payee Accounting Report” once a year.

      If you think your aunt misused your benefits, you can call 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.

  6. Renee I.

    My sister recently passed and we have temporary custody of her son. Is there a need for his father to know he will be receiving her ss benefits? They were not married.

  7. William b.

    My mom died in 2002 my dad wasn’t married to her I was 14 plus I have 3 siblings that was younger than me was we untitled to any benefits if so can we claim the money we didn’t get and receive it

    • Vonda

      Hi William, thanks for using our blog. You and your siblings may have been eligible for survivor benefits if your mother earned enough Social Security credits through her work. You can call 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.

  8. Kaitlyn M.

    I just turned 18 and I’m still in high school. I moved out of my dads house and he is receiving social security money for me because my mom passed away in 2019. And I am trying to get that money to come directly to me.

    • Vonda

      Hi Kaitlyn, thanks for using our blog. Your benefits can continue up to age 19 if you’re attending elementary or secondary school full time. Benefits are paid to you directly once you turn 18. For student benefits to continue, there is required paperwork. You may want to call 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.

  9. Rachel

    My mom passed away when I was two. My dad has been receiving the social security money from her death since then. I have had to pay for most things by myself or with the help of other relatives. I just turned 20 and am in college. My uncle thinks he is receiving money but we don’t know from what. Is it possible that there is/was any money that was supposed to be going directly to me?

    • Sue

      Hi, Rachel. Thanks for your question. For your security, we don’t have access to your private information in this forum. However, It’s likely that your benefits on your deceased mother’s record stopped around the time you turned 18 or graduated from high school. For more details, see our Benefits for Children fact sheet.

      Most minor children who receive Social Security benefits must have a representative payee, which may have been your father if you were living with him. A representative payee receives monthly benefits on a child’s behalf and spends the money in the order listed below:
      1) Day-to-day needs for food and shelter.
      2) Medical and dental care that’s not covered by health insurance.
      3) Personal needs, such as clothing and recreation.
      The payee must save any leftover money, preferably in U.S. Savings Bonds or an interest-paying bank account. Go to our Representative Payee webpage for more information.

      If you believe your payee may have misused 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. To report misuse, call 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 greater than normal. We hope this information helps.

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