, Muskogee, OK


April 17, 2007

Benefits available for grandparents raising grandkids

Dear Judy: I have heard that Social Security pays benefits to grandparents who have the responsibility of raising grandchildren. Is this true?

Many grandparents need help with raising young children again when they lose their own adult children. Any information you can provide grandparents on a fixed income would be helpful.

Answer: There is an increased trend of grandparents having the responsibility of caring for grandchildren.

Social Security does pay benefits to dependent grandchildren of retirees who draw Social Security benefits under certain conditions. These benefits are paid until the grandchild reaches age 18.

There are exceptions to the 18-year rule that allows payment of benefits to continue if the child is still a full-time student attending an elementary or a secondary school. Once the child completes the last month of attendance as a full time student or reaches his 19th birthday, benefits will end. There are no benefits, according to Social Security law, for older-age grandchild once he has reached college status.

Grandparents taking care of a grandchild, should ask Social Security if they would qualify for monthly benefit checks to help pay the bills associated with such care. There is no reason to lose out on benefits that are payable simply because a grandparent is fearful of asking for help.

That is why we pay Social Security taxes. Social Security is a program created not just for the worker, but for the entire family and this includes eligible dependents, including grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent, your grandchild must be dependent upon you for at least one-half of his support, needs to have been living with you before reaching age 18, and the grandchild’s parents must be disabled or deceased when the earner (or worker) became entitled to benefits.

Also, the grandchild must be unmarried. If the grandchild is disabled, there are different rules.

If you have questions about your grandchild qualifying for benefits, you should call Social Security at (800) 772-1213 and inquire. The rules are complicated and representatives want to help children eligible for benefits to receive them. It’s worth the call.

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