I was recently asked if Social Security child’s benefits continue for a full-time student who is 18 or over.
Here is the answer in a directly from Social Security:
No. At one time, SSA did pay benefits to eligible college students, but the law changed in 1981. Benefits stop when a child reaches age 18 unless he or she:
- Is disabled; or
- Attends a secondary (grade 12 or below) or elementary school full-time.
In general, benefits end when:
- The student graduates [high school]; or
- The student turns age 19 and two months, whichever is first.
Normally, benefits stop when a child reaches age 18 unless he or she is disabled. However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits generally can continue until he or she graduates or until two months after he or she reaches age 19, whichever is first.
Here are the applicable regulations:
(a) General. You are entitled to child’s benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits or who has died if
(1) You are the insured person’s child, based upon a relationship described in §§404.355 through 404.359;
(2) You are dependent on the insured, as defined in §§404.360 through 404.365;
(3) You apply;
(4) You are unmarried; and
(5) You are under age 18; you are 18 years old or older and have a disability that began before you became 22 years old; or you are 18 years or older and qualify for benefits as a full-time student as described in §404.367.
Subsection 5 concerns continuing benefits for those 18 or over, who are still full-time students. This section requires an individual to be either:
However, §404.367 only deals with primary and secondary school students. Part “e” specifically requires that “You are in grade 12 or below.
Keep in mind we are talking about auxiliary benefits for children due to the death or disability of a parent. How going to school affects a disabled child’s entitlement to disability benefits is discussed here.