A Look at Social Security Benefits for Children

There are some situations in which children are eligible to receive social security benefits. There are certain limits related to age of the recipient and the amount that can be paid to a family. The Social Security Administration has outlined the guidelines and provides information at their offices and online. 

Which Children are Entitled?

There are only two situations in which children would be entitled to social security benefits. First, children who have retired or disabled parents (or grandparents) who are entitled may receive some of the benefit. Second, the children of a deceased parent who paid social security taxes while they worked.

In order to qualify for the benefits, the child must be unmarried and under the age of 18. If an unmarried child is 18 or 19 years old and a full time high school student, an exception can be made. Exceptions are also made for those who are 18 years of age or older are disabled. This is only allowed if the disability was present before the age of 22.

How Much Can a Family Receive?

If a parent is disabled or retired, this child can receive up to fifty percent of the full benefit. If the parent has died, the child can receive up to 75 percent of the full benefit. The entire family can receive a total of 150 to 180 percent of the full benefit. The assistance is provided to help the family survive without the family member's earnings.

Duration of Benefits

The social security benefits will continue until the child reaches the age of 18. Once this occurs, the benefit will stop. The recipient will be notified three months ahead of their eighteenth birthday about the discontinuation of benefits.

In certain circumstances, the benefit may continue beyond the age of 18. If the child is still in high school, the benefit will continue until graduation or until two months after his or her nineteenth birthday, depending on which date comes first. A certified statement of attendance must be presented to the Social Security Administration as proof that the child is still going to school. Benefits may also continue beyond this deadline if the child is disabled.

Applying for a Child's Benefits

In order to apply for the child's benefits, you will need certain documents and information. You will need the social security numbers of both the parents and the child as well as the child's birth certificate. Depending on the reason the child is eligible, you will need to provide a certificate of death (for the parent or grandparent) or medical documentation that proves disability. An administration representative will make any applicant aware of other necessary documents or information necessary.

Can creditors take Social Security benefits for children of a deceased parent?

Social Security benefits, as a rule, cannot be legally taken by creditors to pay off an outstanding debt. Children of a deceased parent with an outstanding debt are not legally responsible for the debt. The only exception to this is if the deceased parent had an estate that was left to the children. Creditors could, technically, come after the estate in order to satisfy the debt. Any outstanding amount that remained after the estate was liquidated could not be demanded from the children. In short, creditors cannot take Social Security benefits for children of a deceased parent. 

Are Social Security benefits for children paid to parents?

Social Security benefits for children are paid to the natural or adopted parent or the stepparent or guardian. Social Security benefits for children become an option if their parent or parents are currently receiving SSA or SSI benefits themselves. Someone who becomes disabled as a child can also qualify for benefits on her own. In order for a child to become eligible to receive benefits under her parents, she must be unmarried and under 18 years of age. The exception to the rule about being under 18 years of age is if the child continues to attend elementary or secondary school over the age of 18. An individual who becomes disabled under age 22 and remains disabled into her adult years is eligible to continue receiving SSI benefits under her parent's or guardian's Social Security earning's record.

Are Social Security benefits paid to children taxable?

Whether Social Security benefits made to children become taxable depends on the type of benefits the children receive under their parents. The benefits received from Social Security after retirement are considered taxable income. Any additional payments, such as a child's SSI benefits, become taxable income. You must pay taxes to the IRS for whatever amount is received throughout a fiscal year. However, this is not true for Social Security benefits given to disabled workers. Accordingly, a child's SSI benefit given under her disabled parent's benefit is not considered taxable income. 

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