However, under Social Security Regulations (20 CFR 404.352), the entitlement to child’s benefits may end for any of the following reasons.
- You turn 18 years old and are not disabled or a full-time student. Benefits end the month before the month in which you became 18 years old. Why does Social Security has to say, “the month before the month” rather than 2 months before? I have no idea.
- You are 18 (or older) and your disability ends. Benefits end with the second month following the month in which the disability ends. Exception: your benefits may be continued after your impairment is no longer disabling if you are participating in a program of vocational rehabilitation services, employment services, or other support services and you meet other requirements described at the bottom of this page.
- You turn 19 and are not disabled. If you have not yet gotten your diploma or certificate, benefits can be paid until the last month of the semester or quarter in which you turned 19. Actually, Social Security’s language is even more hairy. The regulation says the entitlement ends, “With the last month you are a full-time student or, if earlier, with the month before the month you become age 19, if you become 18 years old and you qualify as a full-time student who is not disabled. If you become age 19 in a month in which you have not completed the requirements for, or received, a diploma or equivalent certificate from an elementary or secondary school and you are required to enroll for each quarter or semester, we will find your entitlement ended with the month in which the quarter or semester in which you are enrolled ends. If the school you are attending does not have a quarter or semester system which requires re-enrollment, we will find your entitlement to benefits ended with the month you complete the course or, if earlier, the first day of the third month following the month in which you become 19 years old.” Got all that?!
- You are married. Benefits end “the month before the month” you marry. Exception: your benefits will not end if you are age 18 or older, disabled, and you marry a person entitled to child’s benefits based on disability or a person entitled to old-age, divorced wife’s, divorced husband’s, widow’s, widower’s, mother’s, father’s, parent’s, or disability benefits.
- [omitted – this reason for stopping benefits deals with cases of entitlement to child’s benefits not when a parent is dead, but when a parent is alive and receiving either old-age or disability benefits. Since this article only deals with why child’s benefits paid because of a death of a parent may terminate, this reason is beyond the scope of this article.]
- If you die.
If you were disabled, but your impairment is no longer disabling, your benefits may be continued if you meet the following requirements. Note: I am quoting directly from the regulations here.
- “You are participating in an appropriate program of vocational rehabilitation services, employment services, or other support services, as described in §404.327(a) and (b);
- “You began participating in the program before the date your disability ended; and
- “Social Security has determined under §404.328 that your completion of the program, or your continuation in the program for a specified period of time, will increase the likelihood that you will not have to return to the disability benefit rolls.”
If you qualify to continue to receive child’s benefits after your disability ends (as described above), Social Security may continue to pay your benefits until—
- “The month in which you complete the program; or
- “The month in which you stop participating in the program for any reason (see §404.327(b)); or
- “The month in which Social Security determines under §404.328 that your continuing participation in the program will no longer increase the likelihood that you will not have to return to the disability benefit rolls.”
If you are 18 years old or over and disabled, and drug addiction or alcoholism is a material factor in the determination of your disability, there are special rules which may terminate your eligibility for child’s benefits. See §404.352(c).