Byline: Jim Bushman District Manager, Elgin Social Security Office
Many people tend to associate Social Security with older people. So it may surprise you to learn that Social Security plays an important role in the lives of millions of children.
Social Security pays benefits to millions of older Americans who are retired or widowed.
But many children qualify for benefits, too. In fact, more than 4 million children receive monthly benefit payments from either Social Security or the Supplemental Security Income programs.
Basically, there are three types of monthly cash benefits that a child might be eligible to receive from Social Security or the Supplemental Security Income program.
- Supplemental Security Income Benefits for Children: These are monthly cash benefits payable to disabled children under age 18 who have limited income and resources, or who come from homes with limited income and resources.
- Social Security Dependents Benefits: These are monthly cash benefits payable to children under the age of 18 on the record of a parent who is collecting retirement or disability benefits from Social Security, or survivors benefits payable to children under the age of 18 on the record of a parent who has died.
A child can continue receiving dependents or survivors benefits until age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in elementary or high school.
- Social Security Benefits for Adults Disabled Since Childhood: Dependents benefits normally stop when a child reaches age 18 (or 19 if the child is a full-time student).
However, those benefits can continue to be paid into adulthood if the child is disabled.
To qualify for these benefits, an individual must be eligible as the child of someone who is getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits, or of someone who has died, and that child must have a disability that began prior to age 22.
Although most of the people getting these benefits are in their 20s and 30s (and some even older), the benefit is considered a "child's" benefit because it is paid on the basis of a parent's Social Security earnings record.
To learn more about these programs, and the requirements for each benefit, read our leaflet, "Social Security Benefits For Children With Disabilities." This publication also includes information about benefits for children without disabilities.
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