Can a child get Social Security benefits if a parent dies?

Can a child get Social Security benefits if their mother or father dies?

Children can be entitled to receive Social Security child’s benefits if the deceased parent was fully insured by Social Security and if they meet 5 tests:

  1. The child is the insured person’s child. See §§404.355 through 404.359;
  2. The child is dependent on the insured. See §§404.360 through 404.365;
  3. The child applies for benefits;
  4. The child is unmarried; and
  5. The child is under age 18; – OR – 18 years old or older and has a disability that began before the child became 22 years old; – OR – the child is 18 years or older and qualifies for benefits as a full-time student in a primary or secondary school as described in §404.367.

See 20 CFR 404.350 for more information.

Updated 04/30/09.

Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. This site provides general information about Social Security disability cases in Colorado. To discuss your particular circumstances, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please review the full disclaimer .

About Tomasz Stasiuk

Tomasz Stasiuk is a Colorado Springs Social Security disability lawyer and the founding attorney of the Stasiuk Firm - a law firm specializing in Social Security disability cases in Colorado. Follow Tomasz Stasiuk on Google and Twitter


  • Dave

    If a child is 18 and a full time student, to what age is the child eligible to receive benefits? I am a teacher, and I have many 19-21 year old kids trying to finish high school here in Texas. Are survivor benefits for a child cut off at age 19, 20 or 21? Even if they are still in school?

  • Dave

    If a child is 18 and a full time student, to what age is the child eligible to receive benefits? I am a teacher, and I have many 19-21 year old kids trying to finish high school here in Texas. Are survivor benefits for a child cut off at age 19, 20 or 21? Even if they are still in school?

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  • CJONES0318

    My daugher was receiving SSI disability benefits at the time of her death. Will her son who is 5 be eilgible to reveive any social security benefits? sHE WAS DRAWING SSI FROM HER DECEASED FATHERS SSI SINCE SHE WAS 4. hE WORKED BUT SHE HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO WORK DUE TO BACK SURGERY AND MENTAL ILLNESS.

  • manuelcoffey

    I have three kids my wife past years ago, when my oldest turn 18 his check stopped, my two other kids got an increase which still made it almost as getting three checks.I need to know when my second child turn 18 in a few months will my youngest child get the whole amount ? will my youngest get over $1800.00 amonth? If you can repond to this letter it will help out a whole lot .

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  • cynthia waid

    My girlfriend commited suicide when her daughter was 10 years old. My girlfriend raised her daughter all by herself , she had always worked and had no contact with the father of her daughter over the years. How much a month would the daughter recieve from survivor's benefits? Will she continue to recieve the benefits when she goes to college and for how long? Thank you

  • bbkris

    can i ask you a question

  • TomaszStasiuk

    You just did!

    But if you want an answer, keep in mind that I don’t provide legal advice in comments. That means I cannot answer, “here is my situation… what will happen?” questions.

    This site provides general information. If you need answers based on your specific circumstances, contact SSA directly or speak with a lawyer in your area.

  • B A Scherff

    I’m ranting if that’s alright? First off my father passed away when I was 6, my check that my mom gets to support this family stops at age 16, I’m currently 15 now and how do they expect me to get a job at 16 and make that much a year; ridiculous and what i can’t stand the fact and the point I’m trying to make is, on this show i recently watched called 16 and pregnant , for having a child at 16 they make $250,000 for just being on that dumb ass show excuse my language, which is absolutely pointless and they did to themselves and basically getting rewarded for their fault, when i didn’t ask for my father to die as to many others in the deceased parent situation! If you know were I’m trying to come across from this please feel free to reply!

  • B A Scerff

    Sorry if that was somewhat irrelevant to this topic but it was getting to me!

  • B A Scherff

    Sorry if the grammar is horrible, I guess all i can do now is get a great education which any one in my situation deserves and a great job!

  • B A Scherff

    oh and contact me at

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Thanks for commenting. And commenting. And commenting. :)

    Social Security has different kinds of survivors’ benefits:
    Social Security pays benefits to the surviving parent. This article provides more information:

    However, there are also benefits paid to the child of a deceased parent. Children’s benefits end 18 (or 19 if still in high school):

  • Pingback: Does adoption cut off survivor’s benefits for children? | Colorado Social Security Law()

  • J_rodleb

    I have two children, there mom passed away and both were recieving a check. Question, when the oldest child turns 18 his check stopped. Does the money that he was getting go to the younger child. Or does the benefit stay the same?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Take a look at

  • Msdonnakick

    Until age 18 or graduates.

  • hillary

    my dad died when i was 1. i currently get money from that and im 17 almost 18. i graduate this year and i’ll be attending college full time. do i still get the money?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Hillary, take a look at

    For specifics about your case, contact your local SSA office.

  • Veronicaguerrero34

    3 years old daughter ,father just passed away now I do,nt think he worked for to long is she able to get any benefits

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  • Michellezahrte

    If your spouse dies leaving you to take care of children under the age of 16, you may be entitled to Mother’s and Father’s benefits (commonly called parent’s benefits) under Social Security.
    These are separate from the benefits the children may be entitled to based on the death (or disability) of a parent.

  • MichelleZahrte

    You most likely qualify for benefits of your own as a surviving child, your mother is receiving benefits as a surviving parent.

  • TomaszStasiuk
  • zack bruner

    hey thanks for the post! i have 2 important ?’s maybe you could help me with. First off, Im 17 years old and ive been getting social security from both of my parents being deceased. I live in Georgia,Ive been told since ive been getting the check that if im a full-time student id get the check until i was 25. Is that true? Also, if I get a part-time job for like 12 hrs. a week would my benefits be affected?? Thanks

  • guest1223

    can a child recieve money directly ?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    When Social Security children’s survivor’s benefits end is discussed here:

    For specific information about your benefits, I encourage you to contact Social Security directly.

  • Pingback: Can a 18 year old full time student still get Social Security child's benefits? | Disability Tips()

  • Kapraimua

    I have some questions, my brother died 2 yrs ago and his son recieved survial benefits. Questions, if the money is misappropiately used from the mother and paying for her new born and her boyfriend’s car insurance, where can I get info regarding appropiate use for the child who is recieving benefit. Please help me…

  • Kapraimua

    I’m just so frustrated, my nephew is living off my deceased brother’s benefit, but my nephew’s mother, not my bro’s ex wife they were just boyfriend and girlfriend, is living off with my nephew’s benefit and miss using my nephew’s benefit. My nephew asked his mom where is his money going to, in front me and my mother. This just breaks my heart and pissing me off. Desperately need some info…

  • TomaszStasiuk

    This thread discusses a similar situation:

    For specific information about possible misuse of benefits, I encourage you to contact Social Security.

  • Tete8339

    My grandsons father is decreased.  Their father applied for Social Security but never received it when he was alive.  Can my grandchildren received social security benefits?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Maybe. Depends on whether the father was fully insured and 5 criteria discussed in the article. 

    For specific information about entitlement to survivor’s benefits, I encourage you to contact Social Security.

  • pattyp

    I have a child whose deceased father paid very little soc sec. Is there any other benefits i can get for her

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Based on what you describe, whether the father died “fully insured” may be an issue. I cannot answer that. You need to contact SSA to see what they say. 

  • Meganjc07

    Hi, um about this. My dad is 58 years old and me and my sister are 15 & 12. They just cut off our social security without telling us! We have bills to pay. We usually only have $120-140 dollors left for grocery’s and gas. Can you help me?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I cannot offer to help you. Encourage your dad to contact SSA to find out why the benefits were stopped. There should have been some communication, usually a letter, before any action was taken. The letter would describe the reason and the appeal rights. If your father no longer has this, SSA should be able to provide a copy, or at least say what has happened. Keep in mind that time limits apply to any appeals. So, it important to take action quickly. Your dad may also want to contact a lawyer in his area to get legal advice.

  • Jazer Infp Strozier

    Ok I used to live with my mom and she passed nov 8 2011 the SSI is still sending letters here saying that she will get benefits in March if they send a check here (even though I don’t qualify I am 23 i am a part time student and I am not disabled) can I still cash the check maybe I need to become a full time student

  • TomaszStasiuk

    You need to contact SSA about your mother’s death and the check you received.

  • Eileen

    My childrens father was killed at 18 are they entitled to benefits??

  • Fjperkins

    my nephew  dad died wen he was 4 yrs old an is getting soc sec he is 18 now an is in the 12 grade. he will be 19 in april an he will not pass the 12 grade cuz he doesnt keep his grades up. he will half to do 12 grade again nxt yr. will his soc sec be cut off at 19 in april or will he keep getting soc sec till he finshes high school. also if he was to get married will his soc sec be cut off.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    The deceased parent had to be fully insured for the children to be eligible for survivors’ benefits. Only Social Security can tell you if that was the case. Give your local Social Security office a call and ask if your children are eligible for any benefits on their deceased father’s Social Security earning’s record.

    Good luck Eileen!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Take a look at

  • Ldralle829

    My dad was in the military and we found a life insurance policy for $20,000, who gets this money his Adult age kids?  or his new wife of 30days?

  • Shebautt48

    my dad pass away over 3 yrs ago. i,m 48 i heard i can draw of my dad. is that true? thank u

  • Aranaja666

    My mother passed away on Jan.22 and for the month of February i recieved her s.s.i check and cashed it cause it was stated to me that since she passed after the 15 of the month she was still entitled for it? can you clarify this for me PLEASE and Thank You..

  • TomaszStasiuk

    According to Social Security ( “If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the  benefit received for the month of death or any later months.”

    “If A Beneficiary Dies – Let us know if a person receiving Social Security benefits dies. Benefits are not payable for the month of death. That means if the person died any time in July, for example, the check received in August (which is payment for July) must be returned. If direct deposit is used, also notify the financial institution of the death as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death.”

  • Marroquin Arnold

    I am 19 years of age, my father was murdered about 5 years ago back in his country.( Guatemala) I am a full time student and struggle financially. I contacted Social Security and said they couldn’t help me since I was already in college. Does anyone know of any way to get help financially by his death? Bastard was never around, want his death to atleast help me with something. If no one knows by any govt. help, how about any grants?

  • 5starprincesss

    i just turned 19 and am currently still in high school how can i still get survivors benefits….   

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Take a look at:

  • Ryan_1002

    If it was his Military SGLI it would be who ever he named beneficiary or if he left it “by law” if would be his wife even if it was for 1 day

  • Mischka

    Hi, I hope you can help me. Our mother died at the hands of her husband many years ago. She left behind a 19yr old, 17 yr old, 14yr old and 9yr old, all full time college/secondary school students. The 2 older kids were away at college, and we doubt if the 2 younger ones ever received SS checks. The husband ended up in jail for her murder a few years later. My basic question here is: can her husband receive her benefits? And can her kids receive her benefits even though we never ‘claimed’ them?

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  • sandra

    My daughter father pass away 8 month ago ,He filed taxes for 10 years with an ITIN #, can she still receive benefits?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    There is quite a bit of information needed to answer that question. Contact your local Social Security office or call the toll free national number at 1-800-772-1213 and they will walk you through it.

  • Toms82

    My dad died before my mom told him about me and I am wondering if I can still collect his benefits even though he died 28 years ago considering that I was a child and had no way of fixing this on my own back then?

  • Keiff

    My Step Daughter will be 14 next month. Her biological father died of a drug overdose this past weekend. He was technically still in his second marriage (in process of divorce) and had another child with her (my step daughter’s half sister). He served 2 tours in Afghanistan in the US Army and afterwards, was a deep sea diver.

    Will his second wife and daughter get all the Survivor’s benefits or does my Step Daughter have rights to any of them?

  • Melissa

    Your Step Daughter is also entitled to her part of her Dad’s SSA. Both children will receive the exact amount.

  • Melissa

    It will be cut off either when he graduates or 2 months after his 19th birthday whichever comes first.

  • Zachary Watkins

    My mother died at the age of 42. I was 8 at the time. I know my sisters and I recieve benefits through my father, but I no longer live with him. Is there any way I can get this money??I am currently 17.



  • TomaszStasiuk

    I encourage you to contact SSA ( 1-800-772-1213 ) for information about your specific circumstances.



  • kimberly

    my sons biological father passed away when my son was three..we just found this out..he is now 19..and a full time college student..can he file for the death benefits now

  • tlynnprice

    My daughter passed away in 2008. Her son has been living with his father and getting SS. His father abused him so the DSS took legal custody and placed him in our care (we are his maternal grandparents). He has been with us for almost 2 months. Do his death benefits come to us to help support him? We have received no financial help at all. We have used all our savings and need help to provide the food, clothing, etc. that he needs. We are running out of money and need help. Shouldn’t his death benefit monies be going where he is to help support him?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    My understanding is that the benefits should follow the child since they are for his/her benefit. Contact Social Security 1-800-772-1213 to see if the benefits are being properly handled in your grandson’s case.

  • tlynnprice


  • sweetjam209

    my sons father passed away and had been receiving social security for years. during the time of his death he wasn’t getting any benefits. i was wondering if my 11yr old son is able to get social security still? his father i believe was in the process of trying to get his benefits started again

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Your son might be eligible for survivor’s benefits. As noted above the father had to be “fully insured.” Your local SSA office can walk you though the process. Good luck!

  • Justn

    My mom has had full legal custody of her niece and nephew since the age of 3 months (now16) and 6 months (now14). She just recently passed and the guardianship turned over to me. Can they receive her benefits?

  • crystal

    My boyfriend died in a car accident and I found out I was pregnant after the fact. My first daughter was his child and was adopted by family members. His family as of now wants nothing to do with me. Is it still possible for me to get benefits? I don’t know if he earned enough credits. I/we didn’t discuss what would happen he was only 27.

  • tlynnprice

    I contacted SS and they told me they have asked him to return the monies but because it is less than $50,000.00 they would not pursue it. They admitted it was fraud but $2,500.00 was now worth going after. I guess a little fraud is ok with them. He was also told to return the monies by the family court judge. He told the judge he had spent it, so the judge told us to take it up with SS and they would fine, imprison him or both if he didn’t return the monies. SS won’t do anything. That’s ok, though. At least we have our grandson now, he is now safe and he will no longer be abused!!!

  • tlynnprice

    SS benefits stop at age 18 no matter what. Our granddaughter just turned 18 and is now in college. She asked it the benefits would continue and they told her no. Her birthday is in July and she has received no check since June. Thank God her mom left her life insurance which she got when she turned 18. It has helped her tremendously!

  • Amy

    The father of my minor children died last year. Both kids are currently getting benefits. My oldest will be 18 in a few months. Can I get an increase for the second minor child once that happens?

  • TomaszStasiuk
  • Amy

    Wonderful. Thank you. Kind of you to answer. Do you know if I need to apply for this change or will they do it automatically?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Normally, it is automatic. However, it is good practice to check.

  • beckey

    My mom died, so my sisters and i got some amount of benefits, however we were under the age of 18 so it all went to my dad. how can i find out the amount he got for all three of us children?

  • summer

    My dad died and it’s been 4 years and I didn’t receive anything I just turned 18 I don’t know what to do.

  • rosalie clasper

    Hi, i was married to a CANADIAN PENSIONER in Philippines. We have 2 children, both minors.. Are these children qualifed to have SS support, when theyre outside Canada? The father and I were separated, but their dad had supported them since the day we agreed till the day of his death. As a single mom, i cant give my children a goodlife in my country. Pls help. Kids have passport and theyre citi

  • GoldStar

    I was wondering if a child’s parent is deceased and the child is receiving social security and the child’s mother is receiving social security as the child’s care giver, is the mother allowed to have earned income?

  • worried_Nana

    My son recently died and left a 3 yr old son. The childs mother comes and sees him about once a week for a few hours. The child lives with me and my husband but we dont have legal custody. We do keep very close records of the time that we have him as well as any incidents that occur. The childs mother is now asking me for a death certificate and other documents so she can apply for benefits for my grandson. She doesnt even have him most of the time! Is there any way I can apply for the benefits for him with me as the person receiving it for him so I can make sure it is put into a savings account for him and to make sure he has everything he needs? Its unfair that his mother will take his benefits and live off them while WE are the ones raising him! What can i do? I cant afford to hire a lawyer to try and get custody.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Get in touch with your local Social Security office or call the national line at 1-800-772-1213. Hopefully, they can help you out. Good luck!

  • sam

    My father past away 21 years ago June 5 1993. My mother was 8 months pregnant with me. I was born July 1 1993. I was recently explained I needed to go apply n get his benifits. Am I still eligible or do I even have a chance?

  • mouse

    Going through same thing. My son recently passed. He was a single father. Mom hardly ever had the child. Now all of a sudden, she is #1 MOM because theres money involved. She is already getting the SS benefits & spending every penny of it. I expected this money to go into a account for my grandchild for college etc..What can I do???

  • Darian_mit

    My sister and I get a some amout of benefits from my mom passing away last year..she will be 18 in 2 months will I get her half if the check when that happens?

  • Mary Murray

    Question: A child is in college and her mother passed 4 weeks ago and she has no source of income and the father isn’t in her life. What should she do to get help?

  • Rachel Aguren

    Your father died the day I was born, in sorry for your loss.

  • Iesha Ragsdale

    My mother died 8 days before I turned 18. I am now 23. Am I still available to draw ssi from her?

  • shab79

    My daughters father passed away in 08, she recieves Caresource benefits from the government. I am working now but want to keep her on her government program because she is eligible until she’s 26 as a full time student. Do I apply at Social Security . GOV or do I facilitate that through Job and Family Services? Do I even need to do anything at all or will her coverage just continue.

  • Tracy Rathbun

    My children are teenagers and both have social security benefits coming in. My question is that they both work for their spending money (I use the benefit money for food, clothes, shelter, etc.) How much money can they made before they have to pay taxes? My son turned 18 in August, so he is no longer getting any, but had it for part of the year. My daughter is 16 and she still gets the full amount and works.

  • Brandi

    I have a 6 yr old child. His father passed away 5 mths ago. There was never a paternity test. Is there anything I can do to get my child benefits?

  • Jennifer King Raymundo

    go to court! u do not need to hire a lawyer to get custody go to court immediatly the court clerk for family court will tell u what to fill out and what u need to do u can then be appointed a lawyer through the courts or a law guardian for the child . these women, the mothers of the children i mean should be ashamed. and whoever runs this site should also for not answering these important questions!

  • higs

    Why would the living parent receive the social security from the deceased parent when it belongs to the child?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Two separate things: a child can be entitled to SSA benefits after a parent dies AND a surviving spouse may also receive benefits while taking care of the child.

  • higs

    My mother was literally taking my s.s benefits from my father when he passed, I was 4,and when i just turned 18 in September I got the benefits

  • Brandi

    Tomasz, I was pregnant when my daughter father was killed and he had an on-going SSDI claim. She was just granted Survivors benefits after me getting DNA through the coroner, going to court and getting an order. His mother is over his estate and is handling the SSDI case. If its granted, will my daughter get any benefits although she wasn’t born yet?

  • Ginger Lay

    My husband past away jan 6th 2015…our daughters are receiving ssi and so is his son that has never been a part of his life. The mom had him sign over his parental rights. Does he still receive ssi benefits even if my husband signed over his rights?

  • Kiia

    Could I Recieve My Grandmother Benefits Once She Has Passed Away , Knowing That She’s Wanting To Leave It To Me

  • Denise Minor

    If a grandmother has been the beneficiary of your ssi check after your parents died once I turn 18 do I get to start getting the checks and for how long?

  • mm

    How long does it take after applyint for surviiyrs benifits for my son for him to recieve them

  • summer

    My dad died when I was 14 but years before. That he lost his arm so i know he had disability my dad family told me I was supposed to recieve money. But its been 5 years

  • roger

    I have the same question.

  • roger

    My children’s mother just passed yesterday 3-7-15 but she signed her rights away and we’ll as I did for certain reasons. Can her children collect death benefits still? Can I collect death benefits even tho we were divorced? Can my parents get deth benefits because that’s who has leagle custody?

  • roger

    It shouldn’t take that long after took my wifes children it took little a month.

  • Beewdee

    My sister passed away and has a 14 year old daughter. She thought signing a will and a power of attorney form made me the beneficiary but we were told the power of attorney died when she did. Her Life insurance, 401K and personal checking account are inaccessible because her minor daughter is the beneficiary. Until I figure out things I would like to know what steps to take to ensure her daughter gets her SS benefits. Any feed back would be greatly appreciated.

  • pam

    i have the same concerns???

  • Max

    When I was 17 my dad passed away. I’m 18 now, and a highschool student that will be attending college in the fall. I get some sort of survivor/student benefit every month. My mother told me it was for the family and makes me sign it over each month and I would get in trouble with social security if I tried to keep it for myself. Is this money truly for the family or am I entitled to the full amount?

  • pat

    Shame on you trying to collect money from your ex dead wife

  • Nanny

    It’s all yours. Please get educated with Social Security. It’s only your money. Your mother is being deceptive. Good luck!

  • Nanny