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When is a surviving child entitled to child's insurance benefits?

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


410. When is a surviving child entitled to child's insurance benefits?

A surviving child is entitled to child's insurance benefits if the conditions below are met:

  1. The worker-parent died either fully or currently insured;

  2. The child is the child of the deceased;

  3. The child is:

    1. Under age 18;

    2. Under age 19 and a full-time elementary or secondary school student; or

    3. Age 18 or over and under a disability as defined in §507.1 (which began before age 22); and

  4. The child was dependent upon the deceased parent (see§§ 334-337 for the dependency "tests");

  5. The child is not married; and

  6. An application for child's insurance benefits is filed. (See §511 for completing application forms.)

    Note: An application is not required if the child was entitled to child's insurance benefits on the deceased parent's earnings record for the month before the month in which the parent died.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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There are 13 Comments

Yes, I was wondering if you have already filed on the behave of your children for benefits how long does it takes for the benefits to start in how can I check in see where things is at online. Who do I talk to online to see how things are going forward with this.

My son was born in June 1981. We never received support from his father. We just learned his father died in a hit and run accident on 4 Nov 1983. Can he get the social securtiy benefits that he never recieved even though he is 28 now. I would think it would be like back child support. If it was never paid, it is still owed to the child.

I could not find a definitive answer for this. I would encourage you to contact SSA directly for this.

I did find one indication that such back payments for survivor benefits will *not* be paid :

You should apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits will be paid from the time you apply and not from the time the worker died.

i have three children. their daddy died in 2002 and we have been receiving benefits. my oldest will be graduating in may 2010. he will also be 19 in june 2010. i know his benefits will stop. however, will his amount be added to the other two childrens amount? or can i receive anything. I am 48.

Note there is a "family maximum" benefit which may affect payments to children. Please see the following :

As far as you, these are examples of the benefits that survivors may receive:

* Widow or widower, age 60 -- full retirement age -- 71.5 to 99 percent of the deceased worker's basic amount;
* Disabled widow or widower aged 50 through 59 -- 71½ percent;
* Widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 -- 75 percent.

My husband passed away a couple of years ago and my son and I have been recieving benifits ever since. If I remarry I know I will lose my benifits but I was wondering if my marrige would affect my sons? He is only 4 years old.

My child's father died and he never signed her birth certificate. I was wondering if she could still recieve benefits. His family doesn't deny her exsistence and she has half siblings.

This looks like it's a gray area. Please contact the SSA directly for this.

Note the Social Security Handbook indicates that a court decree of paternity must be issued before death to prove paternity :

However, there are other ways to prove paternity. These ways vary from state to state.

Please see here for state-by-state cases where benefits were judged based on the weight of evidence :!openview&restricttocategory=15011

My daughter is almost 2 years old now. Her father and I were together for quite some time and when I was 7 months pregnant he was killed. I didn't think that I would be able to get any benefits for my daughter because he passed away before she was born. Is there something that I can do to where she will get benefits? If so, could you please give me the contact information to go about this. I am so busy being a single mom, working, school that I have no time to really look into this. Please advise what you think would be the best way to go about this.

Thanks so much! I appreciate it.

This is difficult to answer as the answer will vary from state to state due to state laws on paternity and inheritance.

You should contact your local Social Security office for this.

For your reference, you may wish to see the history of cases similar to yours, especially in your state. State-by-state cases can be found here :!openview&restricttocategory=15011

For example, here is one case in Washington where the paternity of a child was determined by testing the DNA of a grandparent of the deceased father :

Under Washington law, the genetic testing of the claimant and of one parent of the deceased number holder showing a 99.71 percent likelihood that the deceased number holder's parent is a grandparent of the claimant is as probative and useful DNA testing of the deceased number holder or of both of his parents.

I want to get married. I live with my boyfriend and son. We live on our own with help from either of our parents. If i get married will that effect my benefits??

Please help!

Thank you

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