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Social Security Survivor Benefits for College Students - AARP Bulletin Skip to content

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Can College Students Receive Survivor Benefits?

No. The law changed in 1981.

Q. My son is turning 18 and is graduating from high school. He has been receiving Social Security benefits based on the work record of his deceased father. Will my son's benefits continue when he goes to college?

A. Unfortunately, the answer is no. There was a time when Social Security did pay benefits to college students, but the law changed in 1981. Currently, Social Security pays benefits only to students attending classes at grade 12 and below. Generally, benefits stop when a student reaches 18, unless the student is disabled or is still attending a secondary school — grade 12 or below — on a full-time basis. For a child who is still in school, benefits can continue until he or she graduates or until two months after the student reaches age 19, whichever is first. For more information, read "Benefits While in College."

Also of interest: Social Security survivor benefits. >>

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.