During most divorces involving children, one parent is required to pay the other parent child support. Unfortunately, some parents paying child support die before their child support obligation ends. In those situations, the child may be entitled to the paying parent’s Social Security benefits.
Social Security is a federal program most well-known for paying benefits to those citizens that reach a certain age, also known as Retirement Insurance Benefits. Generally, a person must be fully insured by the Social Security system, have obtained the age of 62 and either applied for the benefits to receive their benefit payments. The benefit amount is based upon several factors including the amount of payroll taxes paid into the system, the age at which benefits are claimed, the current earned income of an individual and military service.
While Social Security is mostly viewed as an “old age” benefit, some of the money paid in Social Security taxes goes toward providing survivor’s insurance for a worker’s family. When a worker dies, certain members of their family, including children, are eligible for survivor’s benefits.
A child is eligible to receive benefits if they are unmarried and younger than 18 (or up to the age of 19 if they are a full-time student in secondary school). In addition, a child can receive benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
When applying for a child’s benefits, you will need the child’s birth certificate and both the parent’s and child’s Social Security numbers. In addition, you will need proof of the parent’s death, like a death certificate. If your child is disabled, then you will also need to provide medical proof of the disability. The Social Security Administration will tell you if you need tax returns for the deceased parent or bank information
A child can receive up to half of the parent’s full retirement benefit, or three-quarters of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit. Each family has a limit to the amount of money it may receive. The family maximum payment can be anywhere from 150 percent to 180 percent of the parent’s full benefit amount. In addition, if the child meets certain requirements, they are eligible for a one-time death benefit payment of $255.
It is very important to contact the Social Security Administration as soon as the paying spouse is deceased. The application may be done over the phone or at your local Social Security Administration office. Even if you do not have all of the required information, you may still start a Social Security claim. The Social Security Administration may even assist you with acquiring the records you need. The most important reason to file as soon as possible is that the benefits will be paid from the time the application is filed. So the longer you wait to file, the fewer benefits you will receive.