Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration

What is the definition of "child" for Social Security purposes?

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

411. What is the definition of "child" for Social Security purposes?

The term "child" includes the insured worker's:

  1. Natural (e.g., biological) legitimate child, or any other child who would have the right under applicable State law to inherit intestate personal property from the insured worker as his or her child;

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

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

  3. Legally adopted child (see §329);

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

  5. Natural child, provided the insured 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 parent 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 reasonable evidence. The worker must have lived with the child or contributed to the child's support or when the insured worker died; or

  6. Dependent grandchild or step-grandchild (see §325).

Note: The court action in (E) above must be made before the worker's death.

Last Revised: Feb. 11, 2004



There are 5 Comments

hay all i need some advice on the following.
in 2000 i applied for ssi disability. i won my case in 2004. my back pay was about $24,000 and my daughter's mother (whom i never married) got around $11,000 in one lump sum and $350 per month until she is 18.
the mother told me she was going to put the money in an account for my daughter for college and so forth. i also am paying $200 a month for child support thru the courts system. i have always paid my support.
my daughter will be 18 yrs old in november and her mother has been calling demanding that i pay her $1000 for my daughter's college or never see her again.
am i right to think that the back pay sent to her should have gone to my daughter as well as the monthly amount? she claims it was child support but i was paid up and in mo. child support is only paid if it comes thru the child support family division which mine has for 17 yrs ?
i am 47 with a disability and will never work again ?
thanks for any help bill in missouri

I am the representative payee receiving survivor benefits for my niece. She is turning 17 soon and has considered graduating from high school early. She would be graduating two months after her 17th birthday. How does this affect her survivor benefits?

My son is now 18 years of age and planning to go to Washington State to be in JobCorp. He is allowed to have a car while he is in the program to not only obtain his GED, but also learn to drive large trucks. Can I use the money in his account (close to $10,000) to obtain a good used car and insurance for him?

It sounds as if you're the representative payee for your son. I suggest you request guidance from your local Social Security office for this.

If you use "dedicated account" funds for anything other than the allowable "dedicated account" fund expenses, even if you spend them on other needs of the child, you must repay SSA, from your own funds, an amount equal to what you spent.

You may call SSA at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days, or contact your local SSA office.

If your son is receiving SSI and his living arrangement changes, you'll likely have to report this to the SSA.


Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration