Losing a parent is both emotionally painful and, often times, devastating to a family’s finances.

In the same way that Social Security helps to lift up the disabled and seniors when they need it, we support families when an income-earning parent dies.

A second parent, family member or executor should know the following to help a child whose parent has died receive Social Security benefits (if the deceased person worked long enough to qualify for them).

NOTIFYING SOCIAL SECURITY: You should let Social Security know as soon as possible when a person in your family dies. Usually, the funeral director will report the person’s death to Social Security; but you can go directly to your local Social Security office. 

DOCUMENTS THAT MAY be needed include proof of worker’s death and Social Security number; the child’s birth certificate or adoption papers; proof of citizenship or lawful alien status; W-2 forms if child had earnings.  

BENEFITS ARE AVAILABLE to your unmarried child who is

• Younger than age 18 

• 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or 

• 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.

BENEFITS STOP when your child reaches age 18 unless your child is a student in secondary school or disabled.

WITH A FAMILY, a child can receive up to half of the parent’s full retirement or disability benefits. If a child receives survivors benefits, they can get up to 75 percent of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit. The family maximum is determined as part of every Social Security benefit computation. It can be from 150% to 180% of the parent’s full benefit amount. 

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