As a parent, it can be devastating losing a child. However, it can be particularly painful if you were financially dependent on that child because now you have to scramble to stay afloat in the months and years after the loss. While this may not solve all your problems, one thing that may make the situation easier is the fact that you may be able to use your child's work record to qualify for a larger Social Security benefits check. Here's what you need to know.
Whether a person works for a company, owns a business, or is self-employed, that individual is contributing to the Social Security fund in some way. When that person passes away, the Social Security Administration (SSA) lets their surviving dependents take some or all of those earnings. Thus, if you're received at least half of your financial support from your adult child, you can qualify for survivor's benefits.
However, this assistance doesn't come without caveats. You must be at least 62 years old and the amount you receive based on your child's record must be more than you can get on your own. For instance, if you only qualified for $500 per month based on your work record but would be eligible for $750 based on your child's record, the SSA would approve you for survivor's benefits.
Other Issues to Be Aware Of
While qualifying for a larger Social Security check using your child's record can be immeasurably helpful, be aware that the SSA puts limits on the amount of benefits on how much the family of the deceased individual receives. Calculations vary, but generally can receive a maximum of 150 to 272 percent of the Primary Insurance Amount. Thus, if your adult child had children and a spouse who are also eligible for survivor's benefits, the amounts will be adjusted between all of you to keep the total payout within the household limit.
Additionally, there are limits on the amount of money you can earn and still qualify for survivor's benefits. With your child gone, you may feel compelled to go back to work to earn some extra money to support yourself. You have to be careful not to go over the annual income limit, which is $17,040 for 2018 if you're younger than 66. However, this doesn't apply if you're full retirement age.
For more information about applying for survivor's benefits using your adult child's record, contact a local Social Security attorney.