The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) regulations contain multiple provisions for making benefits available to certain survivors of deceased workers. Among these provisions are some that allow surviving children of deceased workers to receive benefits through the Social Security old age/retirement fund and through the Social Security Disability (SSD) fund.
Any worker who contributes to the SSD fund throughout the course of his or her employment earns work credits. Up to four credits can be earned each year a worker contributes to the fund. No more than 40 credits, or the equivalent of 10 years of contributions, are required to be eligible to receive benefits.
Once a worker is eligible for benefits, his or her surviving children would also potentially be eligible for benefits if the worker dies. In some instances, the surviving children of a deceased worker may be eligible to receive benefits even if the 40 credit threshold has not been reached.
There are two primary circumstances under which survivor benefits for children may be available. The first is when the child of a deceased worker is under 18 years of age, or 19 if they have not yet completed high school. The second is when a child becomes disabled before the age of 22.
It’s not only the biological children of a deceased worker who may qualify under the survivor benefits provisions of the SSA. Stepchildren and adopted children also qualify. In some cases, grandchildren and even step-grandchildren can qualify for benefits as well, provided the deceased grandparent under whose Social Security the child qualifies was the legal guardian of the child.