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Benefits for children

If you are receiving benefits on behalf of a child, there are important things you should know about his or her benefits.

When a child reaches age 18

A child's benefits stop with the month before the child reaches age 18, unless the child is disabled or is a full-time elementary or secondary school student and unmarried. About three months before the child's 18th birthday, you will get a letter explaining how benefits can continue. Social Security also will send the child a letter and a student form.

If your child's benefits stopped at age 18, they can start again if he or she becomes disabled before reaching age 22 or becomes a full-time elementary or secondary school student before reaching age 19. The student needs to contact us to reapply for benefits.

If your 18-year-old child is still in school

Your child can receive benefits until age 19 if he or she continues to be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. When your child's 19th birthday occurs during a school term, benefits usually can continue until completion of the term, or for two months following the 19th birthday, whichever comes first.

You should tell us immediately if your child marries, is convicted of a crime, drops out of school, changes from full-time to part-time attendance, is expelled, suspended or changes schools. You also should tell us if your child has an employer who is paying for your child to attend school.

In general, a student can keep receiving benefits during a vacation period of four months or less if he or she plans to go back to school full time at the end of the vacation.

If your child is disabled

Your child can continue to receive benefits after age 18 if he or she has a disability that begins before age 22. Your child also may qualify for SSI disability benefits. Contact us for more information.

If you have a stepchild and get divorced

If you have a stepchild who is getting benefits based on your work and you divorce the child's parent, you must tell us as soon as the divorce becomes final. Your stepchild's benefit will stop the month after the divorce becomes final.

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