Foster and Adopted Children Eligible for Help from Social Security

The US Social Security Administration (SSA) wants parents to understand that foster youth in their care — and, in limited situations, adopted children — may be eligible for help from the SSA.

The SSA oversees different kinds of benefit programs, and each of those programs have different requirements for eligibility.  Below is a rundown of the different kinds of benefits for which the child might be eligible and how to get approval for the benefits.

For foster children, these benefits can aid with the cost of living expenses, such as utility bills and transportation costs, as well as medical bills, school supplies, and clothing.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – if a child is disabled and meets specific income and resource limitations, he or she might be eligible to receive SSI benefits. To be approved, the child must meet the criteria established in the Blue Book, which is the medical guide, to determine he or she is disabled, or must meet the medical-vocational allowance using a residual functional capacity (RFC) form that shows all limitations and restrictions. SSI is needs-based, so income and resource criteria must also be met. The SSI benefits received by a foster child will not affect the Social Security benefits received by anyone else in the household.  An adopted child may also be eligible for SSI benefits if the child has a disability. However, the SSI will take into factor their parents income, as SSI is only for those in financial dire strain. The SSA that has a chart that goes over income per household here.


Survivors’ Benefits – If a child’s biological parent dies, then he or she is eligible to receive survivors’ benefits. These benefits are paid from the decedent’s Social Security account and are based on the amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) that that parent had paid into the system. A child can get up to 75% of the parent’s basic retirement benefit. The SSSA does have limits in regards how much a family can receive, so if the biological parent had multiple children, the funds will be divided.


Auxiliary Benefits – If a worker is disabled and approved for Social Security Disability benefits, or if the individual has retired and is drawing Social Security retirement benefits, their spouse and dependent children might be eligible to receive benefits as well. Benefits payable to any relatives are called auxiliary benefits.

If a child is in foster care, and his or her biological parent is disabled or receiving retirement benefits, that child might be eligible to receive auxiliary benefits based on his or her biological parents benefit records. If the foster parent is receiving benefits, the child is not eligible for auxiliary benefits on the foster parent’s record unless he or she is legally adopted.


Starting The Application Process  – If you believe your foster child is eligible for any of these benefits, talk with your case worker or contact the SSA. You can visit the nearest office to meet with a representative, but you should first call to schedule an appointment for faster service, call 1-800-772-1213.

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