Stepping in when a young parent dies Vonda VanTil Social Security Public Affairs Specialist For young people whose parent passes away, Social Security is here. Losing a parent is both emotionally painful and often devastating to a family’s finances. In the same way that Social Security helps to lift up the disabled and seniors 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 dies. Usually, the funeral director will report the person’s death to Social Security. You’ll need to give the deceased’s Social Security number to the funeral director so they 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 gets all the benefits they’re entitled to.
Please read the following information carefully to learn what benefits may be available.
Unmarried children can get benefits if they’re younger than age 18; 18 to 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 get benefits, a child must have a parent who’s 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 a child reaches age 18 unless the child is a student in secondary school or 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 to 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.
Vonda VanTil is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan. You may write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 4952,5 or via email to vonda.Vantil@ssa.gov.