More and more grandparents are finding themselves raising their grandchildren. Social Security will pay benefits to grandchildren when the grandparent retires, becomes disabled, or dies, if certain conditions are met. Generally, the biological parents of the child must be deceased or disabled, or the grandparent must legally adopt the grandchild.
To receive this benefit, your grandchild must have begun living with you before age 18 and received at least one half of his or her support from you for the year before the month you became entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits, or died. Also, the natural parent(s) of the child must not be making regular contributions to his or her support.
If your grandchild was born during the one-year period, you must have lived with and provided at least one-half of the child’s support for substantially the entire period from the date of birth to the month you became entitled to benefits.
Your grandchild may qualify for benefits under these circumstances, even if he or she is a step-grandchild. However, if you and your spouse are already receiving benefits, you would need to adopt the child for them to qualify for benefits.