Equity, General, Survivors

Social Security Pays Benefits to Children After the Death of a Parent

June 20, 2024 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: June 20, 2024

Father comforting teenage sonWhen many people think of Social Security, retirement springs to mind. But did you know that about 2.7 million children receive Social Security? More than half of these children get benefits after the death of a parent who worked and paid Social Security taxes.

In fact, 98 out of 100 children in this country could get Social Security if a working parent dies. In some cases, the child’s surviving parent is eligible for benefits as well.

The death of a parent can have negative financial, health, and educational effects on children, according to research by David Weaver of the University of South Carolina published in Population Review in 2019.  When tragedy happens, we can help.

Social Security benefits are very valuable for surviving children and their families. They come from all walks of life and all races and ethnicities, income levels, geographic locations, and more.

We estimate that Social Security Survivors Insurance is equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of $930,000 for a young worker with average earnings who leaves behind a spouse and two children.

A woman comforting her daughterWe base the monthly benefit amount on the earnings of the deceased parent. The average surviving child benefit is more than $1,000 per month. We pay benefits until the child turns 18 or 19, if the child is in high school, and is not married. A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild, or adopted child may be eligible for monthly benefits under certain circumstances.

Survivors benefits may be payable to an adult child of a deceased worker, if they have a disability that began before age 22, they are not able to work, and meet all eligibility requirements.

If a child in your life has lost a parent, it’s important for the child’s family to reach out to us as soon as possible. The date you contact us to file an application can affect when the child’s benefits begin.

You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. We can usually schedule an appointment in 30-60 days. We will let you know what information you need to apply. We provide free interpreter services by phone or in person in your local Social Security office.

To learn more, visit our Survivors Benefits and Parents and Guardians webpages.

Please share this information with your friends and family who may need it – and post it on social media.

 

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  1. Crystal H.

    What is the CFR portion that dictates the benefit (funds) for a minor child their property?

    Reply
  2. Tara M.

    What about the retro payments and monthly payment increase adjustment on survivor benefits? Benefits were reduced 4 1/2 years ago for two people and given to two additional people that weren’t supposed to receive benefits and after a hearing (waiting almost a full year for the decision) with a fully favorable decision that determined those other two people shouldn’t be receiving those benefits we continue to have to call about when our retro payment and monthly adjustment will be made. The decision was received March 20, 2024 from my court hearing that was May 3, 2023! We get different answers every time we call and have never received any letters in the time that was stated in the decision letter or from the employees that were spoken to. Why does it take so long for social security to pay back money to someone that is supposed to receive it when it was an error on your end? This is causing an extreme financial hardship for both the families that should have been getting these benefits for their children’s father all along. Extremely disappointed and frustrated with this government agency. It has pushed us to the point of now getting an attorney involved after I was told by a previous attorney that I shouldn’t need one, reaching out to the news, congressman and senators offices when all we are looking for is a payment that should have never been taken from us to begin with. We have been dealing with this since March of 2020.

    Reply
    • S.D.

      We’re sorry to hear about your situation, Tara. The processing time for release of back pay varies. For your security, we don’t have access to your private information in this venue. We encourage you to continue to work with your local Social Security office. You can ask to speak with a supervisor during your next call or visit. We hope this is resolved soon.

      Reply
      • Tara M.

        That would be great advice if you could get an actual answer when you call any of the numbers or if supervisors actually call you back from the 4 plus messages taken and left or if you weren’t continually disconnected in the middle of talking with someone. It should not take almost 5 years to get a mistake that was made by your offices rectified! It’s extremely disappointing. To take a year to get a decision from a hearing is also insane! Oh and every time it says I should receive something in the mail that never comes either. There is never a problem with social security being taken from my hard working paycheck every pay for the past 33 years of me working.

        Reply
  3. Mary B.

    Both my son and daughter inlaw overdosed im my granddaughters legal guardian and she only draws 480 a month my sister lives in Indiana and she draws over nine hundred same thing happened parents overdosed ❓

    Reply
    • S.D.

      We’re sorry for your loss, Mary. The amount of your granddaughter’s survivors benefit is based on the earnings of her parents. The more they worked and paid into Social Security, the greater the survivors benefits. For more information, read our Survivors publication.

      We may be able to pay benefits to your granddaughter on your work record because both her parents are deceased. To learn more about the support that’s available when you’re raising a grandchild, visit our Parents and Guardians webpage. If you have specific questions about your granddaughter’s benefits, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

      Reply
      • S.D.

        We’re sorry to hear of your situation, Tara. The processing time for release of back pay varies. For your security, we don’t have access to your private information in this venue. We encourage you to continue to work with your local Social Security office. You can ask to speak with a supervisor during your next call or visit. We hope this is resolved soon.

        Reply
  4. Sharon

    My son passed away a year ago in two days. Benefits were applied for my grandson right away, but still no word. Everything has been submitted, including DNA. This is in LA. It seems very unfair and creates hardships that this takes so long.

    Reply
    • V

      It usually takes 5 months for payments to begin with S.S., however, when they do begin, they will include the accumulated retroactive payments as well. At least it used to be that way. It’s worth checking out!

      Take care and God in Heaven bless you in every way!

      Reply
    • S.D.

      We’re sorry for your loss, Sharon. We encourage you to contact your local Social Security office regarding the status of your grandson’s application. You can ask to speak with a supervisor during your next call or visit. Or you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We hope this is resolved soon.

      Reply
  5. Ruby

    My son was born premature 4//30/2022 and his father passed away 6/5/22 and never got to meet each other, Furthermore I applied but my son didn’t qualify because my sons father was receiving social security disability and parents who received ssd and pass away leaving newborns or children under 21 do not receive survival benefits not even through work earned points he was missing 1 or 2 points and my son was denied. Los Angele Ca

    Reply
    • Desiree F.

      My two granddaughters lost their Father last October , are they eligible??
      They are 13 and 11.

      Reply
      • S.D.

        We’re sorry for your loss, Desiree. You should contact us right away to determine whether your granddaughters might be eligible for survivors benefits. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. If their father had as little as 1 ½ years of work in the 3 years right before his death, his survivors may be able to get benefits. For more information, read our Benefits For Children factsheet and visit our Survivors Planner. We hope this helps.

         

        Reply
    • S.D.

      We’re sorry for your loss, Ruby. If your son’s father was receiving disability payments through our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, no survivors benefits are payable to your son. If your son’s father had as little as 1 ½ years of work in the three years right before his death, his survivors may be able to get benefits. For more information, read our Benefits For Children factsheet and visit our Survivors Planner. If you have additional questions, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  6. About C.

    “You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.”
    Dear SSA,
    Thank you for all this important information. I would like to experience along with the above quote the “time zone”. For a best time for me to call. Thank you all for your work here at SSA.

    Stay Curious,

    About Creativity (online name)

    Reply
    • Susan J.

      My mom passed away at the age of 77. I am 61 right now. My mom and Dad both worked and made good money. Can I get my mom or Dad’s or both of their social security

      Reply
      • S.D.

        Hi, Susan. Thanks for reading our blog and for your question. We can pay benefits to adults on their deceased parents’ earnings record if you have a disability that began before you were age 22 and the disability prevented you from doing substantia work. For more information, visit our Disability Planner. We hope this helps.

        Reply
  7. Francis X.

    Would like to see the math to back up the statement,”Social Security Survivors Insurance is equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of $930,000 for a young worker with average earnings who leaves behind a spouse and two children.” Thank you.

    Reply
  8. Holly

    I think the system needs a change, working members should be able to designate a beneficiary to receive whatever working capitol has been paid into the fund if the person dies prior to filing for SS benefits at retirement age. Think about all of the unmarried and childless workers that died from COVID. Or the 70 yo man who passed, that worked for 55 years and has never taken a payment. SSA got to just keep all of that capitol paid into the system by the person that passed, when the other NOK could have really used those funds. People should be allowed to pass benefits paid into the system as part of an estate.

    Reply
    • Bill

      So social security will already be broke if that was done! Social Security is for retirement source of funds, not as life insurance. If you want family members to get money when you pass away buy life insurance.

      Reply
  9. Linda A.

    Your story says children receive benefits in till 18
    or 19 if in school. Benefits were cut off for my daughter right before she turned 16 yrs old. Something change??

    Reply
    • S.D.

      Thanks for reading our blog and for your question, Linda. For your daughter’s security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. If you were your daughter’s representative payee, you should have received a notice about any changes in her benefits. If you have questions, you can call your local Social Security office or 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  10. Alexia S.

    Is a DNA test required of the child?

    Reply
    • Mx M.

      BEAUTIFULY presented and very well stated . . You have an solid factual point here. Why is this system so dependent upon leveraging life’s for profitable gain when in all of this made up reality is virtually irrelevant to a point of actual non existence? Why y’allt steady keep tryna make life so much more difficult and stressful than it already is ? I have heard and seen to many stories real life events where actual people citizens of this country dedicate over two decades if not more of there lives to this system just to be spat in the face and and held by there feet dangling wonder how…..? …..why?

      UNIVERSAL SHITF IS UPON US ALL . WILL NOT SWAY FOR ANY WHICH WAY . BUT WILL ALIGN WTH STARS TRUE NORTH. THE RIGHT OF WAY …

      Reply
    • S.D.

      Hi, Alexia. Thanks for reading our blog and for your question. If your child may be eligible for survivors benefits, contact us right away at 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment. If the father is not shown on the child’s birth certificate, we’ll tell you what other types of evidence we can use to prove the parent-child relationship. For more information, visit Apply for Social Security benefits. We hope this helps.  

       

      Reply

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