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Howard Kossover: How Social Security benefits are computed

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Q: I have custody of my young granddaughter and raising her without assistance from her parents. Can she receive benefits through my record when I start Social Security retirement next year?

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A: In very limited situations, a dependent grandchild can receive benefits through a grandparents Social Security record.

Along with meeting basic Social Security child benefit rules, requirements include that the grandchild’s natural or adoptive parents are disabled or deceased at the time the grandparent became entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Survivor benefits to a grandchild through the grandparent’s record also exist under similar situations. These are all uncommon. 

Other requirements include that the grandchild must have lived with the grandparent before reaching age 18 and receiving at least one-half support from the grandparent. 

If the grandparent has adopted the grandchild, regular rules for child benefits would apply.

To ask about your specific situation, call the national SSA toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or contact your local office.

Did You Know?  Affordable Care Act information is available at the Health Insurance Marketplace website, www.healthcare.gov, introduced on June 24 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

Site information will change over the summer so that, by October, people will be able to create accounts, complete an online application, and shop for qualified health plans. 

Telephone assistance is available toll-free at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325).

The HHS/Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website, www.cms.gov, also has Affordable Care Act information. Social Security employees cannot answer questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at howard.kossover@ssa.gov. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.

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