Whose Name Do Social Security Benefits Come in if the Child Is a Minor?

Social Security administers retirement and disability programs that can benefit minor children. A child who is a dependent of someone on retirement or disability may draw benefits on the record of the principal beneficiary. In some cases, children can also draw benefits on their own if they qualify for the Supplemental Security Income program.


Children's benefits are available to the dependent minors of retirement and disability beneficiaries. The child must be unmarried and under the age of 18, or 19 or younger and still a full-time high school student up to grade 12. These benefits amount to up to half of the principal beneficiary's benefit. Social Security imposes a "family maximum" that a single household can draw, up to 180 percent of the principal beneficiary's benefit. Children may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income if they suffer from a disabling condition and meet Social Security's income and resource limits.

Representative Payees

Social Security pays children's benefits to a representative payee, an adult who is deemed responsible for handling the monthly payments. A representative payee may be a parent, relative, guardian or friend of the family. Social Security requires the payee to file an annual report of how the money was spent on behalf of the child. If there is no relative or friend available to act as a representative payee, Social Security directs the funds to a social service agency that can act in this capacity.

Checks and Accounts

By March 2013, Social Security required all new beneficiaries to accept their payments via electronic transfer. For a child under 18, this means that a bank account must be opened by the representative payee, who gives Social Security an account and routing number. The agency makes a direct deposit of funds to the account once a month. The date of the deposit depends on the date of birth of the beneficiary. If your birthday falls in the first 10 days of the month, you're paid in the second week of every month; for a birthday in the second 10 days, the third week; for the last 10 or 11 days, the fourth week.

Children's Accounts

A representative payee may open an account in a child's name to handle Social Security benefits. Many banks offer children's accounts for those under 18 years of age, with a parent or guardian co-signing on the account and having the authority to make deposits and withdrawals. Social Security can make payments to these accounts as long as the representative payee is named on the account.

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About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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