Q: What are Social Security mothers and fathers benefits?
A: These are Social Security survivors benefits paid to a surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse based on having a child of the deceased in their care.
Mothers and fathers benefits may be paid to a surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse regardless of age, if she or he is currently unmarried and has a young child under age 16, or a disabled adult child, of the deceased in their care, and the child is entitled to survivors benefits on that deceased parent’s record.
For a simple example, use the family of a man dying in his thirties leaving behind a widow of the same age and a young child. Assuming the child is eligible for Social Security survivors benefits from the deceased parents record, then the widow would likely be eligible for SSA mothers benefits, up until the child reaches age 16 if a disability is not involved.
Since they are based on having an eligible child in care, mothers and fathers survivors benefits are usually paid to young widows and widowers. Amounts are not reduced for age but can be reduced by earnings of the person receiving them in the same way as working while receiving retirement benefits.
Similar benefits are payable to the spouse of a person receiving SSA retirement or disability benefits if children are involved, but not to a former spouse.
Learn more at the Benefits and my Social Security sections of the SSA website, www.socialsecurity.gov.