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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 ssa.gov.

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

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