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Can my children get my Social Security benefits when I die?

En español | Yes.  Children may qualify for survivor benefits on the earnings record of a deceased parent if they are unmarried and: 

  • under 18;
  • 18 (or in some cases 19) and still attending high school full time;
  • or disabled, and the disability occurred before the child turned 22. 

In some circumstances, stepchildren, grandchildren and step-grandchildren may also qualify for survivor benefits. The payment amount is 75 percent of the late parent’s (or grandparent’s) primary insurance amount, which is the full benefit the deceased was entitled to based on his or her earnings history.

Child recipients must be unmarried to begin drawing survivor benefits. In most cases, they automatically lose the benefits if they marry. There are some exceptions for disabled adults who receive “child” benefits based on a late parent’s record.

Keep in mind

  • The payment amount is subject to the family maximum, the upper limit of what a wage earner’s children, spouse and parents can collectively receive in family or survivor benefits. The maximum generally falls between 150 percent and 180 percent of the late worker’s primary insurance amount (but it can go as high as 188 percent). 

Published October 10, 2018

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