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Do grandchildren get Social Security benefits?

Your grandchild lives with you. Can he or she collect Social Security benefits based on that relationship?

The first thing that you should know here is that there are over 2,700 rules governing Social Security. The whole system is incredibly complex. Do not assume there will always be an easy answer. There rarely is.

That is true in this situation, as well. Your grandchild may or may not be eligible, depending on a whole host of factors. Here is the general rule of thumb:

If the individual is not getting any of the benefits from his or her parents when that child's grandparent dies, becomes disabled or retires, he or she may qualify for Social Security benefits. However, there is a strict set of conditions that the child must satisfy, even in this situation. Typically, the child's real, biological parents need to be either disabled or deceased, or the grandparents need to go through the process of legally adopting the child.

So, perhaps the child's parents are both deceased, which is why the child lives with you. He or she may be able to collect. If the parents are alive, the child is not eligible if he or she simply lives with you for convenience. You have to go through the adoption process, and the biological parents will need to give up their paternal rights -- or have those rights taken away by the court -- to allow the adoption to move forward.

As you can see, this is a very complex situation. Every case is unique. It is very important to learn as much as you can about your rights, the child's rights and the thousands of rules that Social Security uses.

Source: Investment News, "Social Security benefits for grandchildren," Mary Beth Franklin, April 05, 2018

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