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How to Calculate Children’s Derivative Social Security Disability Payments

Social Security benefits survive the death of the insured worker. Determine whether a surviving child is entitled to the benefit and, if so, how much.


3 Steps to Calculate Children’s Derivative Social Security Disability Payments

Calculate Children's Derivative Social Security Disability Payments

1. Confirm the entitlement

An eligible surviving child is entitled to a worker-parent’s insurance benefits if the following conditions are met:

  • The worker-parent was fully or currently insured at the time of death;
  • The child is either under 18, under 19 and an elementary or secondary school student, or 18 or over with a disability;
  • The child was the parent’s dependent;
  • The child is single; and
  • If required, an application for the child’s benefits is filed.


2. Gather the worker-parent’s Social Security information, such as annual earnings, to use in the calculations.


3. Check the Social Security Administration’s website, which includes a calculator that gives a pretty accurate estimation of the child’s benefit amount.

Generally, the surviving child’s benefit is 75 percent of the deceased parent’s primary insurance amount. It could be less, however, if more than one survivor is entitled to benefits or the child is entitled to more than one Social Security benefit. The benefit may be payable in one lump sum or ongoing payments.

The child’s benefits will terminate if any of the conditions that entitled him/her to payment become inapplicable, the child’s entitlement was based on a legal adoption that is annulled, or the child dies. The effective date of the termination is generally the month in which the child no longer qualifies.


Tips & Warnings
For purposes of eligibility “child” is defined as (a) a biological child (reasonable evidence of such relationship may be requested), (b) any child who could inherit under intestate laws of the state where the deceased lived at the time of death; (c) legally adopted children; and (d) sometimes stepchildren, those born during an invalid marriage, and dependent grand and step-grandchildren.


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