When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild may also qualify.

To receive benefits, the child must:

  • be unmarried; and
  • be under age 18; or
  • be 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
  • be 18 or older and disabled from a disability that started before age 22.

Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever is first.

Benefits paid for your child will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits they may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking your benefits sooner may be more advantageous.

Maximum Family Benefits

Within your family, each qualified child may receive a monthly payment up to one-half of your full retirement benefit amount. However, there is a limit to the amount we can pay your family.

The total depends on your benefit amount and the number of family members who also qualify on your record. The total varies, but generally the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your full retirement benefit.

Note: If you have a divorced spouse who qualifies for benefits, it will not affect the amount of benefits you or your family may receive.

If Your Child Works

If a child on your record works while receiving benefits, the same earnings limits apply to them as apply to you.

If your child is eligible for benefits this year and is also working, you can use our Earnings Test Calculator to see how those earnings would affect the child's benefit payments.

Note: Your child's earnings affect only their own benefits. They do not affect your benefits or those of any other beneficiaries on your record.

Click on the items below for a description of benefits that may be paid to your: