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Social Security Retirement Benefits – For Your Child?

tangible and intangible benefits by cambodia4kidsorgIt may not be all that common, but if you’re eligible for and drawing Social Security retirement benefits and you have a child (or children) under age 18 – did you realize that your child (or children) is eligible to receive a benefit from Social Security as well?  This is in addition to the “child in care” benefit that your spouse is also eligible to receive upon your filing for benefits – subject to a Maximum Family Benefit, which is usually between 150% and 180% of the Primary Insurance Amount or PIA that you, the primary beneficiary have earned.

It should be noted here that the same holds true for the child of a parent who is receiving Social Security disability benefits.

It’s true.  When you begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits (even if it’s early and therefore reduced), your child (or children) under age 18 is eligible for a monthly benefit equal to 50% of your PIA (not the reduced benefit).  This benefit is payable until the month the child reaches age 18.

In a much more common situation, the same may hold true for grandchildren under the care of their grandparent, in the case where the grandparent is providing the household’s income (or a majority of the household’s income) and is receiving Social Security retirement benefits.  According to recent statistics, this is a sizeable and growing group – apparently around 4.5 million children are living in homes headed by grandparents.  These children may be entitled to Social Security benefits if their grandparents are receiving benefits.

A couple of things to note:

  • A child is always deemed dependent on his parent (mother or father).  The fact that the parent and child do not live in the same home is not a factor unless the child has been adopted by another person.
  • The parent’s status with regard to contributing to the child’s support is not a factor.
  • Length of time that the parents were married, if ever, is not a factor.
  • The child is considered dependent on a stepparent if 1) the stepparent is providing more than 50% of the child’s support; or 2) the child lives with the stepparent.
  • A child is entitled to benefits on a parent’s or stepparent’s record even if the marriage between his or her parents or his parent and stepparent ends.
  • The child’s benefit can be lost (at least partly) if the child works and earns more than $14,160 (in 2010 and 2011).
  • The benefit ends at the child’s age 18, or if the child marries.  This may be extended to age 19 if the child is still in elementary or high school.  The benefit extends further if the child is disabled, and does not stop if the child marries.

Photo by cambodia4kidsorg


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