Social Security’s Benefits for Children

Social Security is with you through life’s journey — from birth, to death, and even beyond, by helping to care for surviving dependents. Every year, about 4.4 million children receive monthly benefits because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired, or deceased. When a parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits help to stabilize the family’s financial situation in an otherwise turbulent time.

Earlier this year, National Birth Defects Prevention Month in January and National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March both raised awareness about medical conditions in children. Many families with children who have birth defects or developmental disabilities need medical and financial help. This is where Social Security’s commitment to helping children and families is most evident.

Social Security pays benefits through our disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Our disability program provides vital income for disabled children, including people disabled since childhood. To qualify for children’s benefits under our disability program, the applicant must be the child of a parent entitled to benefits and meet Social Security’s strict definition of disability. A person is disabled under the Social Security Act if he or she can’t work due to a severe medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death.

The SSI program provides payments to blind or disabled children who live in households with low income and limited resources if they meet our strict definition of disability. You can find more information on eligibility requirements by visiting our website.

Our publication, Benefits for Children explains all we do to care for children. Our website is also an excellent source of information. If you think a child you know is eligible for benefits, don’t wait. Share this information and help improve the child’s quality of life today.

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525 thoughts on “Social Security’s Benefits for Children

  1. My 5 year olds bio father killed him self almost a week ago. His mother advised me to call SS to start to receive benefits from my son’s real dad. Anyone know how this works or how they base the amount he will receive? I have a interview/ Appointment this Thursday at 10:30 am . Anyone know what kind things they ask or what all I will need to have when they call besides the basic stuff?

    • Hi Erin, thanks for using our blog. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or 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.

    • Thank you for using our blog, Alisha. When a parent gets Social Security retirement benefits or disability benefits, his or her child also may get benefits. Children also can get benefits when a parent dies. The child can be a biological child, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild also may qualify.

      To get benefits, the child must be unmarried and:
      • Younger than age 18;
      • A full-time student (no higher than grade 12) 18 to 19 years old; or
      • Have a disability that started before age 22 and is 18 years or older.

      Check out our factsheet on Benefits for Children for more information.

    • Hi Benjamin, thanks for using our blog. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on how to get a benefit verification letter for your son, if you are your son’s representative payee. This letter is sometimes called a budget letter, a benefits letter, a proof of income letter or a proof of award letter. Visit or Representative Payee Portal web page for more details.

      If you are unable to conduct the business online, 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.

  2. Hi I’m TaShayla Moore I have 4 children 2 of them have disabilities an my kids father is disable wanted to apply for my other two children as my kids father doesn’t help do anything an the child support is entirely too low it’s only 134 a month for all my children an that’s not enough hell my lights where recently turned off an I struggle getting back an forth to work due to no money for gas asking for just a little help from my kids disabled father.

    • Hi Tashayla, thanks for using our blog. If the children’s father is receiving Social Security disability benefits, we can withhold Social Security benefits to enforce a beneficiary’s legal obligation to pay child support. However, State laws determine a valid garnishment order. By law, we garnish current and continuing monthly benefits. We do not make retroactive adjustments. You cannot appeal to Social Security for implementing garnishment orders. If you disagree with the garnishment, contact an attorney or representative where the court issued the order.

      Your children, if younger than age 18, may qualify if they have a medical condition or combination of conditions that meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if the children’s income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. Check out the publication Benefits for Children with Disabilities for more details.

      If you would like to apply for your children, you can call us 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.

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