Raising Your Grandchildren and Social Security Benefits
If you’re the primary caregiver of your grandchildren, you may be eligible for additional Social Security disability or retirement benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits for people who are disabled and unable to work, and of course to retired workers. In some instances, grandchildren can supplement your income by up to 75%.
Which Grandchildren Are Eligible?
There’s a fair amount of eligibility criteria your family needs to meet for a child to be eligible for supplemental benefits under your Social Security record. First, you need to pay for at least 50% of your grandchild’s needs, and you must have been doing so for at least one year.
Biological grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted grandchildren are all eligible for additional disability benefits, but your family must meet one of the following criteria for your monthly benefits to increase:
- The parents of your grandchild are deceased
- The parents of your grandchild are disabled and receiving Social Security disability benefits themselves
- You’ve legally adopted your grandchild
This, unfortunately, means that even if you have primary custody of your grandchildren and their parents are no longer in their lives, you will not receive any additional benefits on behalf of your grandkids.
How Much More Income Could Your Family Earn?
If your grandchild meets the technical criteria for additional Social Security benefits, the actual amount your monthly payments increases depends on your unique situation and how many grandchildren you have in your family.
If you’re receiving Social Security disability or Social Security retirement, any grandchild under age 18 will be entitled to up to 50% of your monthly benefits on top of what you’re already receiving. A household income cap will come into play here—it’s usually around 180% of your monthly Social Security income.
For example, if you have two minor grandchildren and both are eligible for supplemental income worth 50% of your benefits, you’d only end up receiving around 40% each. Once your eldest grandchild turns 18, the younger grandchild would then receive the full 50% because your household income would no longer be met.
If your spouse passes away, minor grandchildren could receive up to 75% of a deceased grandparent’s benefits. You can also receive survivors’ benefits on behalf of a spouse if you’re over age 60 and were married for at least 10 years.
Starting the Process
You’re only able to add a grandchild to your beneficiary record at your closest Social Security office. To make an appointment to add your grandchildren to your Social Security retirement or disability account, call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.