How to Apply for Social Security Benefits for a Child

by Bonnie Swain Schindly ; Updated July 27, 2017
Children are eligible for survivor and disability benefits.

Children are eligible to receive Social Security benefits if their parents are disabled, retired, or deceased. Disabled children also may apply for financial benefits. The U.S. government pays an estimated $1.6 billion in Social Security every month to more than 3 billion underage dependents. This government support is intended to provide resources to youngsters to ensure the stability of their households during their formative and school years. However, children must meet specific criteria before they can collect Social Security payments.

Step 1

Understand the eligibility requirements. A child must be unmarried and younger than age 18 years. A teenager who is 18 or 19 years and in grade 12 or lower may apply. To collect survivor benefits, the child also must have a parent who is disabled, retired, or deceased and who was eligible to Social Security benefits themselves. A young person who is 18 years or older and disabled also can receive Social Security if the disability occurred prior to age 22 years.

Step 2

Contact Social Security in person by visiting your local office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 Mondays through Fridays. A representative will be able to answer your questions about your circumstances and walk you through the steps of initiating an application.

Step 3

Furnish the appropriate paperwork. This includes the child’s Social Security number and birth certificate, in addition to the parents’ Social Security numbers. You also will be asked to give a death certificate for the late parent or medical data that documents the child’s or adult’s disability. Social Security also might request tax records or child support paperwork. Your Social Security rep will list the specific items that she will need to process the child’s claim.

Tips

  • You can anticipate up to 50 percent of a disabled or retired parent’s benefits or up to 75 percent of a deceased parent’s benefits.

Warnings

  • Benefits could cease when the child’s circumstances change. Three month’s before that youngster’s 18th birthday, Social Security will issue a notice that the survivor payments are about to stop. Social Security also will contact a disabled child’s parents or guardians prior to their 16th birthday to review the criteria for any ongoing financial support.

Photo Credits

  • mother and child image by citylights from Fotolia.com
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