Social Security Benefits for a Child


The Social Security (SS) Office is where you can apply for a SS card, SS benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), medical insurance, hospital insurance protection, and extra help with Medicare Prescription costs for the children we serve.  Adults can access the same benefits, as well as check on earning records and receive assistance in applying for food stamps.  The SS Office provides full information about individual and family rights and obligations under the law.  There is no charge for the services.

Which Children are eligible?

If we have a child in out of home care and that child’s parent or grandparent (that was the primary provider for the child) has earned wages and paid into social security; that child may be eligible for benefits.  Any dependent child of a wage earner who is retired, disabled, or deceased is entitled to benefits if the child is unmarried and under age 18 or 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12) or 18 or older and have a disability that started before age 22.

Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled.  However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever is first.

Within the family, each qualified child may receive a monthly payment up to 75% of the parent’s full disability amount, but there is a limit to the amount that can be paid to the family as a whole.  The total varies, but it is approximately 150 to 180 percent of the parent’s disability benefit.

Benefits Case Management should be looking into for our Children

Death:  If the child’s parent or grandparent who was a primary caregiver becomes deceased, that child is eligible to receive death benefits (given that parent/grandparent paid into the SS system through earned wages).  To apply for death benefits at minimum the death certificate and child’s birth certificate are required.

Disability:  SSI was established to provide cash assistance to individuals who have limited income and resources, are age 65 or older, are blind or are disabled.  Children who have a disability or are blind are also eligible.  The child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for SSI.  The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that result in “marked and severe functional limitations.”  This means that the conditions must very seriously limit the child’s activities.  The child’s conditions must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 12 months; or must be expected to result in death. 

Disability Evaluations are processed through local SS offices and State agencies (Disability Determination Services or DDSs).  SS representatives in the field offices obtain applications for disability benefits in person, by telephone, by mail or by filing online.  The application and related forms ask for a description of the claimant's impairment(s), treatment sources and other information that relates to the alleged disability.

The field office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements.  The field office then sends the case to a DDS for evaluation of disability.  After completing its development of the evidence, DDS makes the initial disability determination.  DDS returns the case to the field office for appropriate action.  Appeals of unfavorable determinations may be decided in a DDS or by an administrative law judge in SSA's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

If the child’s application has been denied, the Internet Appeal is a starting point to request a review of the decision about the child’s eligibility for disability benefits.

Applying for Benefits

SS will help you in person or by phone to apply for SS Benefits.  Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security website at to find your local office.  Even if all of the information that will be needed is not yet known, SS recommends contacting them and they will walk you through applying for any benefits the child (or family) may be eligible for.  The criteria for eligible adults (spouses or parents) are also detailed on the SS website.

The information for this tip was obtained from .  There is a wealth of information online about applying for benefits and the various forms.