Q. I have been told that when I apply for Social Security benefits, my young children also can receive benefits on my work record. Is that true?
A. Yes, it is true. When you start receiving your retirement benefits, your unmarried children can receive benefits on your record if they meet certain criteria, which I have listed below.
Children who are eligible include your biological children, adopted children and stepchildren.
A child can receive a monthly payment up to one-half of your full retirement amount. However, Social Security has a limit on the total amount of money that can be paid to you and your family. The limit varies with each family but it is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of your retirement benefit.
To receive benefits, your unmarried child must be one of the following:
- Younger than 18 years of age.
- Between 18 and 19 years of age, but a student in elementary or secondary school full time.
- A full-time student but no higher than grade 12.
- Age 18 or older and severely disabled. The disability must have started before age 22.
To apply for retirement and children's benefits, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
For more information, see: "Eligibility of Children to Receive Benefits When a Parent Retires."
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Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.