If you have not claimed your own benefits yet, you must show that the grandchild began living with you before turning 18 and that you provided at least half of his or her financial support for one year before the month you became entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. (You’ll want to keep detailed records of that support.) If the child is less than a year old, you must prove that you provided at least half of the baby’s support from his or her birth. The child’s parents, if living, must not be making regular contributions to his or her support.
If you were already receiving Social Security payments when the child came into your care, you must adopt the child for him or her to collect benefits on your earnings record.
For information on what documents you need to provide to establish your grandchildren’s eligibility for benefits on your record, contact Social Security through your online account, by phone at 800-772-1213, or by visiting your local Social Security office.
[Editor’s note: Local Social Security offices are currently closed to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Social Security services are available online and by phone. If you have a "dire need situation" regarding your benefits or need to update information attached to your Social Security number, such as your name or citizenship status, you may be able to schedule an in-person appointment. See Social Security's coronavirus page or call your local office for more information.]
You’ll find a summary of the benefit options for children and grandchildren in the “Kids and Families” section of the Social Security website.
Keep in mind
- Step-grandchildren are entitled to benefits under the same set of rules and requirements as biological or adopted grandkids.
Updated October 23, 2020