Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration

Stepchild-Stepparent Relationship

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

331. Stepchild-Stepparent Relationship

331.1 When does a stepchild-stepparent relationship arise?

In general, a stepchild-stepparent relationship arises when you:

  1. Marry the child's natural parent (in general, this must be after the child's birth); or

  2. Marry the child's adopting parent after the adoption.

331.2 What is the effect of your death as a stepparent?

If you die, your stepchild's entitlement to benefits does not end.

331.3 What is the effect of divorce on a stepchild's benefits?

Once a stepchild is entitled, a divorce ending the parent's marriage (including an invalid ceremonial marriage-see §332) to the stepparent ends the child's benefits if the divorce becomes final in or after July 1996.

331.4 How long does the steprelationship have to exist?

  1. If the parent is living, a stepchild must have been a stepchild of the insured worker for at least one year before filing an application; and

  2. To qualify for survivors benefits, a stepchild must have been the stepchild of the insured worker for at least nine months before the day that the worker died, unless:

    1. The worker and the child's natural or adopting parent were previously married, divorced, and then remarried at the time of the worker's death, and

    2. The nine-month duration-of-relationship requirement was met at the time of the divorce.

Note: If the death of the worker was accidental or occurred in the line of duty while a member of a uniformed service serving on active duty, the nine-month requirement may be considered satisfied; unless the worker could not have been expected to live for nine months at the time of marriage. (See §404 for an explanation of the exception to the nine-month duration-of-marriage requirement.)

(The evidence required to establish the relationships described above is set forth in §§1707-1717.)

Last Revised: Jun. 30, 2004


Recent Content

Before Freezing Credit, Consider Opening Social Security Online Account

A report states that, in order to establish an online Social Security account at, the Social Security Administration must have access to your credit report to verify your identification.

Thus, before freezing your credit (to mitigate the risk of recent hacks), consider setting up an account at first.

National Social Security Advisor Certification Available

If you're looking for advice on Social Security benefits, it may be useful to find someone with the "National Social Security Advisor" certification.

Although the NSSA appears to be a privately issued certificate, it seems to convey some level of knowledge about Social Security benefits. Finding a financial advisor with NSSA certification may be something worth exploring.

Sponsored Links


Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration