With holidays and vacations, December is often considered a time to focus on the children in our lives. Whether we’re taking the kids to visit Santa, buying Hanukkah gifts or volunteering for a toy drive, children are at the heart of the holiday season. At Social Security, we definitely know a thing or two about helping children.
Did you know that we issue Social Security numbers for children, typically during the first weeks or months of their life? You can learn about Social Security numbers for children by reading our publication, Social Security Numbers For Children, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. A child needs a Social Security number for any number of reasons — if he or she is going to have a bank account, if a relative is buying savings bonds for the child, if the child will have medical coverage or if the child will receive government services. You’ll also need a Social Security number for a child to claim him or her on your tax returns. Typically, the hospital will ask if you want to apply for a Social Security number for your newborn as part of the birth registration process. This is the easiest and fastest way to apply.
If you wait to apply, you will have to visit a Social Security office and:
- Complete an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5);
- Show us original documents proving your child’s U.S. citizenship, age and identity; and
- Show us documents proving your identity.
Remember, a child age 12 or older requesting an original Social Security number must appear in person for the interview, even though a parent or guardian will sign the application on the child’s behalf.
You can imagine the many diverse needs of children around the world. In some countries, children aren’t as fortunate and do not have the strong social safety net that we have in the United States. At Social Security, we work hard to protect the needs of children, particularly if one or both parents is disabled, retired or deceased. These benefits for children provide necessities and help many minors complete high school. You can learn more by reading our publication, Benefits For Children, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. Social Security is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSI:
- The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, resulting in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must severely limit your child’s activities.
- The child’s condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months or be expected to result in death.
- If your child’s condition(s) does not result in “marked and severe limitations,” or does not result in those limitations for at least 12 months, your child will not qualify for SSI.
- The child must not be working and earning more than $1,090 a month in 2015. (This amount usually changes every year.) If he or she is working and earning that much money, your child will not be eligible for disability benefits.
Learn the details about benefits for children by reading our publication, Benefits for Children with Disabilities, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids to learn more about all we do to care for children. Caring for the next generation is a national priority, during the holidays and all year long.
Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawai’i.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: I haven’t received my Social Security Statement in the mail the last few years. Will I ever get one again?
Answer: In September 2014, Social Security resumed mailing Social Security Statements to workers ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits and who don’t have a my Social Security account. Rather than once every five years, those over age 60 will receive a Statement every year. Instead of waiting to receive a mailed Statement once every five years, we encourage people to open a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount so they can access their Statement online, anytime.
Question: I am about to retire, but I still have a young child in my care. Will I receive additional benefits for the child I care for?
Answer: When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits. Your eligible child can be your biological child, an adopted child or a stepchild. In limited circumstances, you may also get benefits for a dependent grandchild. To receive benefits, your child must be: unmarried, under the age of 18, between 18 and 19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12), or 18 or older and disabled from a condition that started before age 22. You can read more about planning for a disabled child’s care here: www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourchildren.htm.