Social Security child benefits for grandparents

Deborah: I know that parents can get Social Security benefits for their children in certain situations. But what about grandparents? My husband and I are raising our grandson because his mother and father have abandoned him. He is 8 years old and has only seen his father maybe three times, and I think that was around 2012. He doesn’t call or write him. His mother lives in the same town as us, a tiny town of about 300 people. But everyone else comes before her own son. Ultimately, we would like to adopt him but we don’t have the money to do so right now.

Phil Moeller: I am so sorry you and your grandson are having to go through this. If you can demonstrate that your grandson is living with you and that you are his primary caretaker and pay for his needs, he should qualify to file for benefits based on one of your earnings records, presumably that of the higher earner. In order for him to file, the person on whose earnings record he is claiming must already have filed for their own retirement benefit. I suggest you call Social Security and find out specific requirements to establish your eligibility for benefits for your grandson. You and your husband also should determine the best Social Security filing strategy – one that reflects your longer-term needs as well as those of your grandson. If you run into any obstacles, please let me know.