The Social Security Administration offers several ways to collect benefits – and children can sometimes qualify for Social Security benefits, depending on their life circumstances.
Unmarried children under 18 years of age or children up to age 19 attending elementary or secondary school full-time, are eligible to receive benefits when a parent retires, becomes disabled or dies. The age limits don’t apply if the child is considered disabled before age 22 and remains disabled.
Of course, the parent needs to be entitled to Social Security in the first place for his or her child to apply for benefits. Each eligible child can receive up to 50 percent of the retiree’s primary insurance amount (PIA) – the parent’s Social Security check before adjustments for retirement age, earnings and other factors.
The spouse can also collect benefits on the retiree’s record at the same time as a child, but a family maximum does apply, says Jake Loescher, financial advisor with Savant Capital Management.
“If the total family benefit exceeds the maximum allowed, the retiree’s benefit is not reduced, but the spouse’s and children’s benefit is reduced pro rata to bring the total under the allowable family maximum,” he says.
If one or both parents are disabled and qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, their children may be able to collect Social Security benefits, too.
If a child is entitled to survivors benefits, he or she can receive up to 75 percent of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit.