How to Get Social Security Survivor Benefits for Adult Children

The Social Security Administration provides survivor benefits to widows, widowers, and children. Benefits provide financial support to help compensate for the lost income. Even adult children can qualify for survivor benefits under certain circumstances. The deceased parent's earnings determine the amount of benefits a child receives. If a child is currently receiving disability benefits, Social Security can automatically change benefits to survivor benefits after the death is reported. For a child not currently receiving benefits, though, the child, parent, legal guardian, court-appointed executor or administrator can complete the process on behalf of the child.

Step 1

Meet the eligibility requirements. For an adult child to receive benefits, he must be unmarried and attending high school full-time. In some cases, Social Security will pay benefits to stepchildren, adopted children, or grandchildren. Children of any age are also eligible, provided they become disabled before age 22.

Step 2

Contact the Social Security Administration to initiate the application process. You can call 800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security Administration office. The Social Security website can help you locate the nearest office based on your zip code.

Step 3

Gather your documents. You need the parent's death certificate, most recent W-2 forms, child's birth certificate, and child's Social Security number. You need to furnish medical evidence of the disability for a disabled child. If you are missing any documents, do not avoid applying. The Social Security office can communicate with your state's Bureau of Vital Statistics to get the information you need.

Step 4

Answer all questions. The application asks basic questions about the child, such as date of birth and relationship to the parent. Include both the child's earnings for the year and the deceased parent's earnings.

Step 5

Retain the Receipt for Your Claim for Social Security Child's Insurance Benefits. You need this receipt to check the status of your application.

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