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Social Security benefits for minor children

Minor children of Social Security recipients also qualify

Minor children of Social Security recipients also qualify to receive a benefit. Credit: iStock

I'm almost 64 years old, married, with an 8-year-old son. If I file for Social Security now, can I also file for my son?


Yes. He can collect a benefit equal to 50 percent of yours until he turns 18 (or 19 if he's still in high school and a full-time student).

If your wife doesn't work, or earns less than $15,720, she also may be eligible for a benefit. The spouse of a Social Security recipient can qualify to receive one if she's caring for a child under age 16, says Jane Zanca, a Social Security Administration spokeswoman. The caveat: As a family, you can't collect more than 150 percent to 180 percent of the full retirement benefit based on your record.

Your full retirement age is 66. If you apply for Social Security at 64, your benefit will always be about 14 percent smaller than it would be at full retirement age. This reduction doesn't affect your dependents' benefits, says Zanca. They'd each be eligible to receive 50 percent of the amount you'd get had you started Social Security at 66.

Say your benefit at 66 would be $2,000, for example. If you apply at 64, you get $1,720. Your son and your wife could each theoretically collect $1,000 a month. But in this example, she adds, the family maximum would cap total benefits at $3,600 a month.

Make an appointment at a local Social Security office to learn about your specific situation. If you keep working, for example, your earnings may temporarily reduce all the benefits that are based on your work record. In 2015, if you're under 66 and collect Social Security, $1 of your benefit is withheld for each $2 you earn above $15,720. After age 66, the penalty disappears.

The bottom line Minor children of Social Security recipients also qualify to receive a benefit.

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