Social Security Benefits for Children, Grandchildren & Parents

Social Security Survivors Benefits (Death Benefits) for Children, Grandchildren & Parents

If you have lost a family member to an injury or illness, our deepest sympathy goes out to you. We understand that in addition to grieving, you must now re-adjust financially and figure out how to make ends meet, without the help of your loved one’s benefits.

Our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers have represented hundreds of families like yours in Orange County and across California, helping them obtain the Social Security survivors benefits to which they are entitled.

Who Can Collect Social Security Survivor Benefits (Death Benefits)

If a disabled person who was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) passes away, the benefits that they were receiving can go his or her dependents, including: a spouse, children, and in some cases even elderly parents. These benefits are known as either “survivor benefits” or “death benefits”.

This article covers children, grandchildren and parent’s survivor benefits.

For Spouses’ (widow and widower) benefits CLICK HERE.

Survivor benefits are only available under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – which is payment that is made to individuals who have sufficient work history.  Survivor benefits are NOT available to the dependent relatives of Supplemental Security (SSI) recipients – who receive benefits because they are low income.

Social Security Survivor Benefits (Death Benefits) for Dependent Children

If a parent died while receiving SSDI benefits, a dependent child may be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits, if the child is:

  • Unmarried, and
  • Younger than 18 years old.

This includes natural children & adopted children, as well as step children. Children will receive 75% of the deceased parent’s SSDI benefit until their 18th birthday.

However, if the child is still in high school, or disabled, they may be able to receive survivor benefits beyond the age of 18.

Social Security Survivor Benefits (Death Benefits) for Adult Children

Adult children (children who are 18 years old or older) may be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits if they are either:

  • Under 19 years old and a full-time student in a secondary school. (i.e., High School only; NOT college or university); OR
  • Disabled and they became disabled before the age of 22.

Qualified adult children will receive 75% of their deceased parent’s SSDI benefit, the same as children under 18.

Full-time students who have qualified for survivor benefits will end when school is completed – or two months after turning 19, whichever comes first.

Disabled adult children will continue to receive benefits for as long as they are disabled.

Social Security Survivor Benefits (Death Benefits) for Grandchildren – Lawyers

A grandchild (or a step-grandchild), may be eligible to receive survivor benefits on the record of a deceased grandparent if:

  • Their biological parents are deceased or disabled and are not making regular contributions to support them.
  • They began living with their grandparent before the age of 18 years old and the deceased grandparent provided at least half of their support for 12 months before his or her death.
  • They are a baby under 12 months old, who has lived with the grandparent for substantially all of his or her life and the grandparent provided at least half of the infant’s support.

Qualified grandchildren will receive 75% of their grandparent’s SSDI benefit, the same amount as dependent children receive. The payments will stop the month before the grandchild turns 18 years old.

Note: if the grandchild was legally adopted by the grandparents, the above requirements do not have to be met- because they will be treated as “children” under Social Security laws.

Social Security Survivor Benefits (Death Benefits) for Elderly Parents – Lawyers

If a disabled child was providing substantial support to an elderly parent, they can receive a percentage of their deceased child’s Social Security benefits only if they were fully insured for Social Security at the time of death. In addition, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • The disabled child provided at least half of the elderly parent’s support at the time of their death.
  • The parent is at least 62 years old.
  • The parent has not married since the disabled child’s death, and
  • The parent is not entitled to their own Social Security benefits that would be higher than the benefit they would receive based on your deceased child’s earnings record.

If there is only one surviving parent, they will receive 82.5% of the deceased child’s Social Security benefits. If there are two surviving parents, each parent will receive 75% of the deceased child’s benefit.

Maximum Family Amount of Social Security Survivor Benefits – Lawyers

Also, there is a limit on how much a family can collect based on a deceased relative’s Social Security benefits. The general rule is that a family cannot receive more than 150-180% of the total amount of the deceased’s Social Security benefit. However, benefits paid to surviving divorced spouses generally don’t count toward the maximum family benefit.

Our Orange County Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help

If you have lost a family member who was collecting Social Security Disability, call our experienced Social Security Disability Attorneys today. We will do everything in our power to help you obtain the maximum Social Security Disability survivor benefits for which you or your family may qualify.

We will compassionately listen to your concerns, answers your questions, and offer any legal help you may need to collect the Social Security benefits you may depend on during this difficult time.