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Child in Care Requirement

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

1829. Child in Care Requirement

1829.1 What types of beneficiaries must have a child in care to receive benefits?

The following types of beneficiaries must have in care a child entitled to benefits in order to receive monthly benefits:

  1. A spouse under age 62;

  2. A mother or father; or

  3. A surviving divorced mother or father.

The child in care must be under age 16 (or disabled, if age 16 or over). Benefits are not payable for any month in which the child is not in the parent's care, or the child is age 16 or over and not disabled.

1829.2 Are beneficiary benefits reduced if there is a child in care?

The amount of the benefit payable to a spouse or divorced spouse is not reduced for any month he or she has a child in care, unless the spouse/divorced spouse has excess earnings. Similarly, the amount of the benefit payable to a widow(er), surviving divorced spouse, or disabled widow(er) is not reduced below 75 percent of the primary insurance amount of the deceased worker in any month he or she has such a child in care (unless reduction for the family maximum or excess earnings is required).

(For the definition of "in care," see §§312-319.)

1829.3 What must be the relationship of the child to the worker?

The child entitled to benefits must be the worker's child; e.g., the natural child, stepchild, or adopted child:

  1. Where a wife or husband is concerned, the child must be entitled to benefits on the same worker's Social Security earnings record;

  2. Where a surviving divorced mother or father is concerned:

    1. The child must his or her natural or legally adopted child; and

    2. The child's insurance benefit must be payable on the same worker's Social Security earnings record; or

  3. Where a divorced spouse, a widow(er), a surviving divorced spouse, a mother, or a father is concerned, the child may be entitled to child's benefits on any Social Security record.

Last Revised: March, 2001


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