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What does having a "child in care" mean?

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

312. What does having a "child in care" mean?

Having a "child in care" is a basic requirement for some benefits, including spouse's benefits for a spouse under age 62 and for mother's and father's benefits (see §415). "In care" means:

  1. Exercising parental control and responsibility for the welfare and care of a child under age 16 or a mentally disabled child age 16 or over; or

  2. Performing personal services for a physically disabled child age 16 or over.

The mother or father may exercise parental control and responsibility or perform personal services alone or together. When the child in care turns 16, the parent may continue to receive benefits if the child is disabled and the parent meets the requirements for having a disabled child in care.

Last Revised: Feb. 4, 2008

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There are 2 Comments

I was widowed in 2008 after my husband was on SSDI for 2 yrs. Since then I have been getting SS under his record (b/c I dont qualify since I never worked enough credits). I cant work b/c of medical issues and obviously dont have enough credits under my name. My 2 children have been getting ss under his record also. My oldest who is 18 + in college doesnt get it and my youngest will be 16 in a couple of weeks. I was told I can apply as "child in care". I guess saying I am taking care of the kids and would get it that way. I am scheduled to have a telephone interview this week. The lady said I would get money back to when my husband died to age 16 for my son. Do I get it for both kids. Can this be true. I dont believe it. Everything I read says it stops when my youngest turns 16.

I use the money for the kids so that we have food, housing etc. I dont have to pay them when they turn 18 do I. sorry for long saga. Jen

I'm not sure of the question here. The telephone interview with SSA should help you with this.

Evidence indicates that support for your children will end when they turn 16, unless they have a disability. I am not sure why you would be due an underpayment for survivor benefits, but there are cases when this happens.

You also may want to see this for "child in care" :

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