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Is it true that my child can receive Social Security benefits based on my earnings record?

Your child--whether he or she is your biological child, adopted child, or stepchild--may be able to receive Social Security monthly benefits based on your earnings record if you're receiving disability or retirement benefits from Social Security, or in the event of your death. These often overlooked benefits can provide steady income for your family when it's needed the most.

How much will your child receive from Social Security? When you start receiving retirement or disability benefits, your child may be eligible to receive up to 50% of your benefit. When you die, your child may be eligible to receive up to 75% of your basic benefit (the benefit that the Social Security Administration calculates you would have received if you had reached full retirement age at the time of your death). Various factors will affect the amount of your child's benefit, including whether other family members are also receiving benefits on your earnings record.

To receive Social Security benefits based on your record, your child must generally be a dependent under age 18 (or age 19 if a full-time student in grade 12 or lower) and unmarried. However, if your unmarried child is disabled and was disabled before age 22, he or she can qualify for benefits based on your record at any age; benefits for a disabled child may end, though, if your child marries or is no longer considered disabled.

You can find out more about family benefits based on your earnings record by checking your Social Security Statement. To access your statement, sign up for a mySocialSecurity account at the Social Security Administration's website, www.socialsecurity.gov. Your statement will give you important information about Social Security that you can use to plan for your family's financial future. This includes how you and your family members qualify for benefits, estimates of your future retirement and disability benefits, and what survivors benefits your child and other family members might receive if you die.