Social Security: Do My Underage Children Get Benefits When I Retire?

Grandparents making cupcake with kids.
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As the average age of first-time parents has increased over the years, as reported by The New York Times, more people may reach retirement age with minor children still in their household. A study conducted by economist Caitlyn Myers analyzed data from the National Center for Health Statistics found that the average age of first-time mothers today is 26 years old, compared to 21 years old in 1972. For fathers, the average age has risen from 27 to 31.

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This may leave many Gen X and millennial parents wondering if their underage children will gain access to Social Security benefits when their parents retire. The answer, according to the Social Security Administration, is: It depends.

Understanding the circumstances that your children under 18 can receive Social Security benefits can help you plan for retirement and even decide when to begin taking benefits.

To qualify for benefits, an eligible child can be a biological or adopted child, a stepchild or a dependent grandchild.

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They must also be unmarried and under the age of 18. However, a full-time high school student can collect benefits until the age of 19. If a child is disabled from a condition that was present prior to the age of 22, they can collect benefits indefinitely.

Benefits distributed to children do not decrease your own benefits. They may total up to one half of your own retirement benefit amount. However, the SSA imposes a family maximum of 150% to 180% of the parent’s full benefit.

If your child works while you are retired, their benefit amount may be reduced based on their income.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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