Q. My former husband is very ill. If he dies, what Social Security Benefits
may our two children be entitled to?
Social security benefits may be paid to children when one parent becomes
disabled, retires, or dies. To be eligible, the child must be the contributing
spouse's biological child, adopted child, stepchild, or a dependent
grandchild and under the age of 18 or, if still in high school, under
the age of 19 (unless the child is disabled).
The child must have one parent who is disabled or retired and entitled
to SS benefits or have a parent who died after having worked long enough
to have themselves qualify for benefits. A child may receive up to one-half
of the contributor's retirement or disability benefits, or 75 % of
the deceased parent's basic Social Security benefit (up to a family maximum).
If a stepchild is receiving benefits, and the contributing spouse divorces
the child's parent, the stepchild's benefits will end the month
after the divorce becomes final.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits based upon
disability. These benefits depend upon prior work and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI). Disability benefits may be paid, if there are sufficient
work credits, to blind or disabled workers, widows and widowers, or adults
who have been disabled since childhood who are otherwise not eligible
to qualify for benefits. The amount of the monthly benefit depends upon
the Social Security earnings record of the worker.
SSI payments are based upon financial need to adults or children who are
disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet certain living
arrangement requirements, and who are otherwise eligible. Monthly benefits
vary up to a maximum federal benefit rate, which is sometimes supplemented
by the state.
Need more information about Social Security and support obligations?
Thurman W. Arnold III