More About SSA Child Benefits

Several questions related to Social Security benefits for children were received this week. Here they are:

Q: If I received Social Security, would benefits paid to my minor children reduce my own amount?

A: No. You receive the same amount whether or not anyone else, child or adult, receives benefits through your work record.

Q: How much would my minor child receive if I started Social Security benefits? 

A: Amounts paid to eligible children through your record are based on your earnings record. When you are alive, such as with Social Security retirement and disability, a child can receive up to 50 percent of your full retirement age (FRA) amount. This might not mean 50 percent of what you receive. For example, your own retirement amount could be less or more than your FRA amount depending on your age when starting benefits.

For survivor benefits, an eligible child can receive up to 75 percent of the deceased workers full retirement amount.

These percentages are only a guide. Based on each person’s individual work history, there is a maximum monthly amount payable to other family members receiving benefits through that work record. If this family maximum is reached, amounts payable to eligible family members are reduced. This maximum does not apply to benefits paid to the worker. As noted above, the worker receives the same amount whether or not anyone else receives benefits through their Social Security work record.

Relatively uncommon, it is also possible that no benefits are payable to family members if the workers earnings have been very low.

Use the calculators at the Social Security Retirement Planner to estimate your SSA retirement FRA amount. For disability and survivors family estimates, request your Social Security online statement.

Q: Are Social Security child benefits paid into college?

A: No. SSA child benefits stop when the child reaches age 18 unless the child is a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school or disabled, assuming all requirements are met. Student benefits usually continue until graduation, or until two months after reaching age 19, whichever comes first. They are not paid into college.

More information is in SSA publication 05-10085, Benefits for Children.

Q: Can children receive a survivors benefit if a parent died and had never paid into Social Security?

A: Survivors benefits are not be payable unless the deceased had worked long enough to earn Social Security coverage. Having enough work means that the person is insured. You earn insured status, measured by credits (also known as quarters of coverage), only by having enough employment. Insured status work requirements are different for retirement, disability and survivors benefits.

People die at all ages. The amount of work needed to provide Social Security benefits for your survivors depends on your age when you die. The younger a person, the fewer credits needed. See


Looking for Social Security information? The Social Security Administration website is at Link to FAQ’s from the homepage or go directly to

Look for the “.gov” at the end of the web address. If it isn’t .gov, it isn’t the real Social Security website.