General

Social Security’s Benefits for Children

May 26, 2016 • By

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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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Comments

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  1. Kelina Matthews

    Hi , I just recently lost my spouse . I am wondering how do I apply for surviver benefits for our daughter .

    Reply
    • Vonda

      We are very sorry for your loss, Kelina. Your daughter may be eligible for survivor benefits if the child’s deceased parent earned enough Social Security credits through their work. 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.

      Reply
  2. Terrence Pickron

    If I receive ssdi and have a foreign child out of wedlock can that child receive payments of my disability.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Terrence, thanks for using our blog. 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.

      See our factsheet on Benefits for Children for more information.

      To ask about potential benefits, 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.

      Reply
  3. Lorena

    Hi, My child receives SSI for disability however I need to stop the benefits how I can do it ? Or What is the process? I appreciated your response

    Reply
    • Sue

      Hi, Lorena, and thanks for using our blog. Please discuss stopping your child’s SSI payment with a Social Security representative. You’ll find the telephone number for your local Social Security office here. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  4. E.E.

    Hi.. I am legally married to a man who is receiving Social Security Disability Benefits. Him and I have a 7 year old daughter that is his biological daughter. Our 7 year old daughter and I receive Child Benefits and Spousal Benefits each month off of his Social Security Disability Benefits. He moved back down to his home town to that we use to live in together to go back down there to the Specialist that he had originally seen because we felt that was what was best. His daughter and I stayed behind because she was in school at the time. We decided to give one another some time. I was seeing a man and ended up getting pregnant. That is over and I am still married. I had little girl in Aug.2020 and the father did sign the Birth Certificate and she has her biological Dad’s last name. He is not really in the picture and doesn’t plan on being. So it is my husband and I who take care of her. Is she eligible to recieving Child Benefits through my husband’s Social Security Disability Benefits even though she has a different last name? My husband is aware that he is not the biological Father of this little girl but it doesn’t matter to him and he helps take care of her just like he did our daughter. We were not sure what all the rules are with the step child benefits or what the qualifications were.
    Thank You

    Reply
  5. Angola york

    my daughter is receiving ssa benefits and she just turned 18 she is still in high school and she lives with me i did not receive her money this month regarding her 18th birthday what should i do and i need the money to take care of her and needs for her

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Angola, thanks for using our blog. There may be some paperwork that the local office is waiting for. Please call your local Social Security office. 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.

      Reply
  6. Marycanich@yahoo.com

    Good afternoon,

    Do children who’s parent died but they lost custody still get ssi benefits. But the children aren’t adopted just legal guardianship

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Mary, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. Children may be eligible for survivor benefits if their deceased parent earned enough Social Security credits through their work. 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.

      Reply
  7. Regina Smart

    I have been disabled since March 2015. My daughter is 26 years old and has been on disability since she was 13. She does not live with me but she still collects SSI for her disability. Does she qualify for child/auxiliary benefits? And if so, will she get a retroactive payment? I was unaware that children who became disabled before age 22 were eligible for SSDI child benefit. Please let me know, so I can take the steps necessary to resolve this.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Regina, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they became 22-years-old. We consider this SSDI benefit as a “child’s” benefit because it’s paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record. SSDI disabled adult “child” benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. Marriage of the disabled adult “child” may affect eligibility for this benefit.

      To inquire on potential benefits for your daughter, 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.

      Reply
  8. Elizabeth Lowing

    I am requesting information on behalf of my granddaughter:
    My son passed in 2006 at the age of 27, he has a daughter who was 1 yr at the time of his passing. Her mother passed in 2017 and she is currently being raised by her step-father.
    My granddaughter will be 16 yr this month. Though she know that she receives SSI benefits from her deceased father, she has never seen a cent of the money and her personal needs, such as clothing and other personal essentials are not being met. She has asked her step-father and he claims all the money from her father goes toward the house payment and utilities, nothing left for her personal needs.
    We are unsure if she is receiving anything from her deceased mother (not sure how that works with both parents deceased), but again, she is not given information.
    Her grandfather and I strongly feel that the money she receives should in part be set aside for a car, and/or further education. We are not even sure if she is receiving Medicaid or Medicare, but we know she has not been to a doctor or dentist since her mother passed.
    As her grandparents, on her behalf, what should we do, who should we contact?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Elizabeth, thank you for using our blog. If the stepfather is your granddaughter’s representative payee, then he is required to keep records of all payments received and how they are spent or saved. Usually, Social Security will send a “Representative Payee Accounting Report” once a year.

      If you think he is misusing your granddaughter’s 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.

      Check out our Representative Payee web page for additional details.

      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.

      Reply
  9. Karena Blakey

    I was able to view my child’s benefits as her representee on my social security . I am not longer given that option and can only view my retirement. What can I do to see her information again ? Representatives have not been able to help me and don’t know what to do .

    Reply
  10. Kara OShaughnessy

    SSA finds parent is disabled. Minor child is receiving SS child benefits because the parent is disabled. Will the child benefit payments continue after the disabled parent’s death? I find articles that say it may, but what statute or code provides for continued payments?

    Reply

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