Jane Yamamoto
Courtesy: Social Security Administration

Social Security is here for the young person whose parent passes away. Losing a parent is emotionally painful and, oftentimes, devastating to the family’s finances. In the same way that Social Security helps to lift up seniors and the disabled when they need it, we support families when an income-earning parent dies.

You should let Social Security know as soon as possible when a person in your family has died. Usually, the funeral director will report the person’s death to Social Security. You will need to give the Social Security number of the deceased person to the funeral director so he or she can make the report.

Some of the deceased’s family members may be able to receive Social Security benefits if the deceased person worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security to qualify for benefits. Contact Social Security as soon as possible to make sure the family receives all of the benefits to which they are entitled. Please read the following information carefully to learn what benefits may be available.

Your unmarried child can get benefits if he or she is:

• Younger than age 18;

• 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or

• 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.

To receive benefits, a child must have:

• A parent who is disabled or retired and entitled to Social Security benefits; or

• A parent who died after having worked long enough in a job where they paid Social Security taxes.

Benefits stop when your child reaches age 18 unless your child is a student in secondary school or is disabled.

Within a family, a child can receive up to half of the parent’s full retirement or disability benefit. If a child receives Survivors benefits, he or she can get up to 75 percent of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit.

There is a limit on the amount of money we can pay to a family. This family maximum is determined as part of every Social Security benefit computation. It can be from 150 to 180 percent of the parent’s full benefit amount. If the total amount payable to all family members exceeds this limit, we reduce each person’s benefit proportionately (except the parent’s) until the total equals the maximum allowable amount.

Children with disabilities may also be eligible for benefits. You can read more about Benefits for Children with Disabilities at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf.

Jane Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawai‘i.


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