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Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

Amount of Surviving Child's Insurance Benefit


412. Amount of Surviving Child's Insurance Benefit

412.1 How is the surviving child's benefit rate computed?

The surviving child's insurance benefit rate is three-fourths (.75) of the deceased parent's primary insurance amount.

412.2 When is the benefit rate less?

The child's insurance benefit may be less than above if the "family maximum" applies and all the benefits on that earnings record have to be reduced.

(See §§730-732 for a discussion of the family maximum. See §§733-737 for the effect of simultaneous entitlement to more than one Social Security benefit.)

Last Revised: March, 2001

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Child turns 18 does the survivor amount change for the 2yr old?

June 22, 2010 by Guest

My husband passed 2yrs ago. His 16yr old and our new born child received survivor benefits. Now that the oldest son is 18 and no longer in school he will not receive benefits. Does this change the amount that the 2yr old is receiving?

Child beneficiary turns adult - effect on minor child's benefit

June 22, 2010 by David Luhman

Please contact Social Security directly for confirmation, but for the case with two children, and one of those becoming an adult, it seems unlikely the remaining minor will see an increase in benefits.

From :

Within a family, a child may receive up to one-half of the parent’s full retirement or disability benefit, or 75 percent of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit. However, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to a family. The family maximum payment is determined as part of every Social Security benefit computation and 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, each person’s benefit is reduced proportionately (except the parent’s) until the total equals the maximum allowable amount.

survivor benefits for multiple children

November 19, 2010 by Guest

I was told by a SS rep that my 4 year old's survivor benefit (from her father's ss funds) will increase when her 16 year old brother turns 18 and then again when her 14 year old sister turns 18. Right now the three of them are splitting the family maximum. Did I misunderstand this?

Family maximum for survivor benefits

November 19, 2010 by David Luhman

Yes, what the SS rep said is essentially correct. As survivors "graduate" (stop receiving) survivor benefits, the TOTAL paid to ALL the children may drop, but the INDIVIDUAL amount paid to EACH child may rise as total payments fall under the family maximum.

See here for details :

Absent parent

January 17, 2011 by Guest

I just found our that my sons birth father died 7 years ago. My son is now 19. Can he collect the benefits from those past years? Is it worth it to file? Thanks for your help.

Back payments for survivor benefits

January 17, 2011 by David Luhman

This is worth exploring, but it may be too late to receive benefits.

From :

You should apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits will be paid from the time you apply and not from the time the worker died.

Also see :

In the case of two children

March 26, 2011 by Guest

I have two children, one who recieves benifits and has for the past 5 years, and one who was recently proven to be a biological child of the deceased. Will my second child now recieve her own benifits, or will the first childs benifits be split between the two children?

Family maximum for survivor benefits

March 27, 2011 by David Luhman

Sounds like the "family maximum" rules may apply to your case. This won't cause the first child's benefits to be "split", but the second child's benefits won't result in a doubling of benefits.

Will my adult disabled child's benefits increase?

April 1, 2011 by Guest

I have 2 daughters who receive survivors benefits from their father. One is turning 18 this month and will stop receiving benefits in June when she is out of school, and my oldest is 24 and is an adult disabled child. I would like to know if my youngest daughters share of benefits will transfer over to her sister - my oldest daughter? I was told several times by the SS office over the years that she would receive her sisters share once she turns 18, but now they are saying yes and no.
I called the SS office today and they said something about 75% cap and that her benefit WOULD NOT increase, and I DO NOT understand what they meant by the 75%. I called back a second time because I always seem to get different answers, and the next person said her benefit WILL increase.Can you please explain? Thank you!

Increase in one child's benefits as another child graduates

April 1, 2011 by David Luhman

You'll need to work more with SSA as I can not find a definitive answer. However, based on my reading, the benefit for the remaining child will not increase.

The family maximum seems to limit benefits for a family to 150-180 percent of the parent's full benefit amount. With only one child, a child may receive up to 75 percent of the deceased parent's basic Social Security benefit. Two children combine to receive 150 percent of the deceased parent's basic Social Security benefit. However a third and fourth child would start to see the effect of the family maximum.

In other words, if you had three or four children, as children graduate, the remaining children would see an increase in their respective benefit until you had two children receiving benefits. As the second-to-last child graduates, the remaining child would not see a benefit increase; they'd already be at 75 percent of the deceased parent's basic Social Security benefit.

Is there a way to have my check transfered to a personal bank?

April 2, 2011 by Guest

Is there a way to have my check put in a personal bank account? ive been drawing it for 2 years now and still havent seen any of it because of my mother. contact me at

Direct deposit - representative payee

April 2, 2011 by David Luhman

I'm not sure what the question is here. I suspect it's more about your representative payee (mother) than direct deposit.

Here's info on direct deposit :

I assume you're under age 18. A beneficiary under age 18 is generally considered incapable of managing his or her own funds, and a representative payee is needed.
However, in some cases direct payment be made to beneficiaries under age 18.

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