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Social Security: Benefits For Children

Information taken from Social Security Administration SSA Publication No. 05-10077 ICN 468300.

If a child is getting benefits based on your work, there are important things you should know about his or her benefits:

When a child reaches age 18

  • A child's benefits stop with the month before the child reaches age 18, unless the child is disabled or is a full-time elementary or secondary school student.
  • About five months before the child's 18th birthday, the person receiving the child's benefits will get a form explaining how benefits can continue.
  • A child whose benefits stopped at age 18 can have them start again, if he or she becomes disabled before reaching age 22. Benefits can also start again if the child becomes a full-time elementary or secondary school student before reaching age 19.

If a child is disabled

  • A child can continue to receive benefits after age 18, if he or she has a disability. The child also may qualify for SSI disability payments. Call us for more information.

If a child age 18 is a student

  • A child can receive benefits until age 19, if he or she continues to be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. When your child's 19th birthday occurs during a school term, their benefits can continue until completion of the term, or for two months following the 19th birthday, whichever comes first.
  • Tell Social Security immediately if the student drops out of school, changes status from full-time to part-time, is expelled or suspended, or changes schools. Also tell us if the student's employer pays him or her for attending school.
  • We send each student a form at the start and end of the school year. Filling out the form, and returning it to us, is important. We can stop benefits if we don't receive the form.
  • A student can keep receiving benefits during a vacation period of four months or less, if he or she plans to go back to school full time at the end of the vacation.
  • A student who stops attending school can restart benefits, if he or she returns to school full time before age 19. The student needs to contact us and reapply for benefits.

How divorce affects a stepchild's benefits

  • If a stepchild is receiving benefits based on your work, and you and the child's parent divorce, the stepchild's benefit will end the month after the divorce becomes final. You must tell us as soon as the divorce become final.

Note:  Contact your local Social Security Administration Office for all the latest updates on benefits and filing requirements.

Call the Social Security Administration toll free at 1-800-772 or at our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, if you're deaf or hard of hearing.

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