When do Social Security children’s benefits stop?

When do Children's Social Security benefits end?

A child may be entitled to receive Social Security child’s benefits if a parent dies. These are called survivor’s benefits.

However, under Social Security Regulations (20 CFR 404.352), the entitlement to child’s benefits may end for any of the following reasons.

  1. You turn 18 years old and are not disabled or a full-time student. Benefits end the month before the month in which you became 18 years old. Why does Social Security has to say, “the month before the month” rather than 2 months before? I have no idea.
  2. You are 18 (or older) and your disability ends. Benefits end with the second month following the month in which the disability ends. Exception: your benefits may be continued after your impairment is no longer disabling if you are participating in a program of vocational rehabilitation services, employment services, or other support services and you meet other requirements described at the bottom of this page.
  3. You turn 19 and are not disabled. If you have not yet gotten your diploma or certificate, benefits can be paid until the last month of the semester or quarter in which you turned 19. Actually, Social Security’s language is even more hairy. The regulation says the entitlement ends, “With the last month you are a full-time student or, if earlier, with the month before the month you become age 19, if you become 18 years old and you qualify as a full-time student who is not disabled. If you become age 19 in a month in which you have not completed the requirements for, or received, a diploma or equivalent certificate from an elementary or secondary school and you are required to enroll for each quarter or semester, we will find your entitlement ended with the month in which the quarter or semester in which you are enrolled ends. If the school you are attending does not have a quarter or semester system which requires re-enrollment, we will find your entitlement to benefits ended with the month you complete the course or, if earlier, the first day of the third month following the month in which you become 19 years old.” Got all that?!
  4. You are married. Benefits end “the month before the month” you marry. Exception: your benefits will not end if you are age 18 or older, disabled, and you marry a person entitled to child’s benefits based on disability or a person entitled to old-age, divorced wife’s, divorced husband’s, widow’s, widower’s, mother’s, father’s, parent’s, or disability benefits.
  5. [omitted – this reason for stopping benefits deals with cases of entitlement to child’s benefits not when a parent is dead, but when a parent is alive and receiving either old-age or disability benefits. Since this article only deals with why child’s benefits paid because of a death of a parent may terminate, this reason is beyond the scope of this article.]
  6. If you die.

If you were disabled, but your impairment is no longer disabling, your benefits may be continued if you meet the following requirements. Note: I am quoting directly from the regulations here.

  1. “You are participating in an appropriate program of vocational rehabilitation services, employment services, or other support services, as described in §404.327(a) and (b);
  2. “You began participating in the program before the date your disability ended; and
  3. “Social Security has determined under §404.328 that your completion of the program, or your continuation in the program for a specified period of time, will increase the likelihood that you will not have to return to the disability benefit rolls.”

If you qualify to continue to receive child’s benefits after your disability ends (as described above), Social Security may continue to pay your benefits until—

  1. “The month in which you complete the program; or
  2. “The month in which you stop participating in the program for any reason (see §404.327(b)); or
  3. “The month in which Social Security determines under §404.328 that your continuing participation in the program will no longer increase the likelihood that you will not have to return to the disability benefit rolls.”

If you are 18 years old or over and disabled, and drug addiction or alcoholism is a material factor in the determination of your disability, there are special rules which may terminate your eligibility for child’s benefits. See §404.352(c).

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

, , ,

  • Pingback: My Ex is Disabled, Can Our Kids Get Benefits? | Colorado Social Security Law()

  • Michele

    If child wants to join the Military after High School, and is not 18 yet, will the benefits cut off

  • Flora R. Barr

    What I am trying to find out is if chidren of a disabled parent recieve any held
    to pay for college?

  • Flora R. Barr

    What I am trying to find out is if chidren of a disabled parent recieve any held
    to pay for college?

  • elisegail

    I am the custodial guardian to my niece since my sisters passing almost 2 yrs. ago. My other sister and her husband who are the trustee's of the estate and co-guardians but have little to no contact with my niece, filed for and recieve her S.S.I. checks. They have not forwarded any of those funds to me to assist in her support since December of 2009. Do I have any recourse?

  • Cc 144sr

    Doesn’t seem right that a child looses a parent and the Social Security benifit stops right when a child is 18 and heading to College. This is so expensive for parents, let alone one parent. Why do the benefits stop at 18 if they are going to College. It shouldn’t be this way! Most parents continue supporting their children to 21 and beyond if they are still in school. Somebody help me understand the logic behind stopping the benefit if a child is enrolled into college full time?

  • concerned parent.

    Do I understand you correctly that benefits end at 18 even though child is going to full time college and only has one parent b/c other parent died.  My son now received SS survivor benefits per month and they are going to end when he turns 18?  He was born 1994 and now plans to go to college but his benefits stop.  That is crazy.  So did your child’s benefits stop at 18 even though he was in college full time:

  • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

    See http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2010/01/can-you-get-social-security-childs-benefits-as-a-full-time-student/

  • Shawntae Berry

    My son father receive SSA and has to pay child support monthly. For some reason this
    month I have’nt receive a payment nor a letter. Does this mean his benifits stopped. How
    can I find out why we have not receive a payment.

  • Jamescollins8130

    If your son is 18 years of age then it has probaly eneded. I would go down to the S.S. office or call and find out what is happening.

  • Anteveryday

    I agree!!!! I am a single parent and my son will be 18 in 12th grade and will have 6mths more before Graduation day! So, I will be paying for a lot! He also wants to attend college. OMG!! I do not know what I am gonna do.  

  • Anteveryday

    My son also was born in 1994 and started kindergarden later due to his birthday!

  • Cc 144sr

    They will most likely pay through the end of High School, but that’s it. You will probably have to fill out the paperwork to get it extended till the end of High School. These rules need to be changed and brought up to current times.  Probably hasn’t been changed for 40 or 50 years! 

  • Tatecs

    my mom died when i was six and my dad remarried within a year. I found out that for ten years my wicked step mother forged and cashed all the social security checks that were meant for me? I just found this out at 53 years of age. Can I sue her?

  • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

    You would need to talk to a lawyer in your state.

  • Pingback: Social Security parent's benefits | Colorado Social Security()

  • anonymous

    what if your 20 and a full time student can you still continue to get ssi?

  • http://www.stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk
  • DDW

    Does the surviving parent’s income count against the surviving child’s benefits. My mom got a letter stating she made more than $14,??? a year and no longer qualified for benefits for her son. He was receiving SS benefits when my Dad was on SSI disability. My Dad passed away and now she gets nothing from SS.

  • Bay

    My adopter son is receiving benefits under my disability income but his grandparents adopted him. Does he still get social security benefit or does it stop. I’m not the biological father.

  • brandy

    where does it state that when my son reaches 16(he receives survivor benefits)I the representative payee gets cut off?

  • http://www.stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    A rep payee receives the benefits on behalf of the disabled person. Those can continue regardless of the disabled person’s age.

    Mother’s and father’s benefits though, stop when the child turns 16. But, these are not based on a disabled child.

  • brandy

    I thought a minor had to have a representative payee.Does it mean that my son is considered an adult as far as SS is concerned?

  • http://www.stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    I think you may be conflating the rights and requirements of children’s SSI and survivor’s benefits.

    If these general information articles do not help, I encourage you to contact Social Security directly. You can reach Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

  • kim

    my child recieves ssi and ssa. she is disabled herself but she started drawing her fathers disability when he passed away. she is now 18. but she will be graduating in june 2015 and turning 19 in august. she is planning to go to college as well. i was told as long as she is disabled, her benefits will continue. so Im trying to figure out if they will continue or will they stop when she graduates? remember , she is now drawing from her dads disabilty, but also recieves ssa

  • http://www.stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    A disabled child receiving Social Security survivor’s benefits may be able to continue to receive benefits after age 18-19 because of the disability. Otherwise, benefits usually stop at age 18-19. This is noted in the article above.

    For specific information about your daughter’s eligibility to ongoing benefits, I encourage you to contact Social Security.

  • ash

    My sister is receiving ssi from her father she is 16 and just found out she is pregnant. Will her ssi end

  • Amy in Alabama

    My husband passed away in 2004, I am still a single parent, we have two daughters , one who is 18 and just lost her ssi, and I am so concerned about my second daughter who is turning 16 in June, Is it true that her ssi will end at this age and NOT at 18 ?

  • Allie Hubbard

    My mothers benefits stopped when son turned 16 but he is disabled I was told that I need a proof letter from his doctor for me that said be needs full time care is 5his true they already said he was disabled

  • Kay

    If a 15 year old child who gets social security benifts from a dead parent, do those benifits end if the child gets pregnant?

  • Englishgirl23

    They do not end unless the child stops attending high school full time. I know my child gets death benfits.

  • Englishgirl23

    yes its true the disdabled adult / child must need supervision.verbal cues etc.Use iep’s from his school records, and a note from dr to prove hes disabled.

  • Woogy Lewis

    Certainly extending social security into college years makes sense, and pays dividends since it’s a motivation to pursue higher education.

  • wendie

    My husband is disabled, his son gets SS benefit and turns 18 in August but doesn’t graduate high school until the May after turning 18. Will he still get the SS benefit and if so does he need to have a letter from school stating when he graduates to submit to SS office?
    Thank you!