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What should I know about Social Security benefits for children?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Social Security benefits for children in Georgia Resources

Social Security benefits for children in Georgia

What should I know? +

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What are Social Security benefits for children?

A child might be eligible to receive their parent’s social security benefits. In some circumstances, children can also get benefits through their step-parent, grandparent, step-grandparent, or adoptive parent. 

 

For a child to get benefits, the child must be:

  • Younger than 18,

  • 18-19 and a full-time secondary or elementary school student;

  • 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.

 

For a child to get benefits, the parent (or other adult) must be:

  • Disabled or retired AND entitled to Social Security benefits, or

  • Deceased after working long enough to be entitled to Social Security benefits.

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What are the rights and responsibilities that come with Social Security benefits for children?

  • If you meet the eligibility requirements for Social Security, you have the right to get Social Security benefits.

  • You have the right to a cost-of-living increase each January if the cost of living has gone up.

  • You have the right to appeal most decisions about Social Security benefits. You are responsible for filing an appeal to the correct party and within a certain amount of time.

  • If you get Social Security disability benefits, you are responsible for contacting the SSA any time a change happens that could affect your benefits.

  • If you are receiving benefits for a child you must contact the SSA when:

    • The child turns 18,

    • An 18-year-old child is still in high school,

    • The child is disabled,

    • Your stepchild is getting benefits based on your work and you divorce their parent.

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How much of the Social Security benefit can a child get?

A child can get up to half of their parent’s full retirement or social security benefits. For survivor’s benefits, a child can get up to 75% of their parent’s basic Social Security benefit. The amount will be determined based on how much the family gets as a whole.  Generally, the total amount a family can get is 150 to 180 percent of the full retirement benefit.

 

A child might also get a one-time payment of $225 when a parent dies. There cannot be a surviving spouse. To get the payment, during the month the parent died, the kid:

  • Was already getting benefits on the parent’s record, or

  • Became eligible for benefits when the parent died. 

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How can my grandchild get my Social Security benefits?

Your grandchild or step-grandchild might be eligible for your Social Security benefits when you retire, become disabled, or die, if:

  • The biological parents are deceased or disabled, OR

  • You have legally adopted your grandchild, AND

  • The grandchild started living with you before age 18, and 

  • You paid for at least half of their expenses for the year before you were entitled to benefits. 

  • The biological parents must not be supporting the child.

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How can a child apply for benefits?

You cannot apply for child’s benefits online. You can apply by:

 

You may need to some or all of the following documents when you apply:

  • The child's birth certificate or other proof of birth or adoption;

  • Proof of the worker’s marriage to the child’s natural or adoptive parent if the child is the worker’s stepchild;

  • Proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if the child was not born in the United States;

  • W-2 form(s) and/or self-employment tax returns if the child had earnings last year; and

  • If the worker is deceased, proof of the worker’s death and U.S. military discharge paper(s).

  • Medical information, if you are applying for disability benefits for an adult child who was disabled before age 22.

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How long do benefits last?

Children can get benefits until they: 

  • get married.

  • turn 18, or 

  • turn 19 if they are in elementary or secondary school full time, or

  • indefinitely if they were disabled before age 22 as long as they remain disabled.

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Resources

 

Last Review and Update: Jan 21, 2020