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Who is a "child" for Social Security purposes?

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

324. Who is a "child" for Social Security purposes?

The term "child" includes the worker's:

  1. Natural (i.e., biological) legitimate child, or any other child who would have the right under applicable State law to inherit intestate personal property from the worker as a child (see §326);

    Note: Applicable State law is the law applied by the courts of the State where the worker was domiciled at the time of death. If the worker was not domiciled in any State, applicable State law is the law the courts of the District of Columbia would apply;

  2. Stepchild, under certain circumstances (see §331);

  3. Legally adopted child (see §329);

  4. Child of invalid ceremonial marriage entered into under the conditions explained in §328;

  5. Natural child, if the worker:

    1. Has acknowledged in writing that the child is his or her son or daughter;

    2. Has been decreed by a court to be the father or mother of the child;

    3. Has been ordered by a court to contribute to the support of the child because the child is his or her son or daughter; or

    4. Has been shown to be the child's father or mother by other acceptable evidence and was living with the child or contributing to the child's support when the child's application is filed (in life cases) or when the worker died (in survivor cases); or

      Note: The court action referred to in E.2. and 3. above must be made before the death of the worker.

  6. Grandchild or step-grandchild, under certain circumstances (see § 325).

Last Revised: Jun. 30, 2004


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