Benefits for Children, as Survivors or Dependents


Children who are survivors or dependents may be eligible for Social Security benefits based on the wage earner's work history.  The benefit amount for the surviving child is three-quarters of the full benefit of the deceased wage earner.  The benefit amount for a dependent child is one-half the full benefit of the wage earner who is living.

Many figures used to calculate Social Security benefits for children are revised annually by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal agency that administers the program. These figures are usually updated in October and can be found in the November issue of the Federal Register, the official government source for administrative changes.

Note: The Social Security Administration issues annual updates on the Social Security cost-of-living increases. The figures are reliable and are updated each year after October 1st, based on an examination of changes in the Consumer Price Index since the previous year. You can find the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) information for the current year and prior years at the Social Security page on COLA.

You can also find the figures on the SSA website, or by calling Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, or TTY at 1-800-325-0778 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.  Or you can go to

If you are a surviving child or dependent, the amount of your benefits depends upon the work record of your parent or guardian. You will receive a percentage of your parent or guardian's benefit amount. If others also receive a benefit on your parent or guardians work record, your benefits may be reduced if the total amount of benefits paid on a single work record exceeds a family maximum.



You must be an unmarried dependent child of the wage earner and you must be either:

  • under age 18 or
  • up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time or
  • over age 18 with a disability that began before age 22

Unders some circumstances, benefits can be paid to the wage earner's stepchildren, grandchildren, stepgrandchildren, or adopted children. 

The wage earner must either be eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits or deceased.

Learn more about Benefits for Children (SSA Publication No. 05-10085).

Income Eligibility:



Asset Eligibility:



Apply at:


your local Social Security office, which can be found by going to the SSA Local Office Search page.



  • You can appeal any denial, termination, or reduction of benefits
  • You must file an appeal within 60 days of the date of the written notice with which you disagree.
  • In addition, you have a 5 day "grace period" to allow for mailing the notice to you, making the total amount of time you have to file an appeal 60+5 days.



Source of Funds:


Social Security Trust Funds

Sources of Law:


Federal Law: 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)  [Section 402 is a very long page.  Scroll down about 1/4 of the way to find subsection (d)]

Federal Regulations: 20 C.F.R. §404.348 to §404.368

Is this legal advice?

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