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I didn't marry my child's father. What rights does my child have to his father's Social Security benefits? (FAQs)

Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

FAQs About Social Security Benefits

I didn't marry my child's father. Does my child have rights to their father's SS benefits? +

Your child may have the right to apply for monthly cash payments if the father is or was qualified to get Social Security benefits.  The father may be alive or dead.

How do I apply for my child to receive SS benefits? +

Go to the nearest Social Security Administration office.  You will have to complete some forms.

What do I have to show for my child to get benefits? +

Age requirements:  You must show proof that your child is under the age of 18 or 19.  Your child can’t get benefits unless he is under 18; a full-time high school student under 19; or is 18 or older and has a disability that began before he became 22.

 

Support requirements:  Your child must show legal or actual dependency on his father for support.  If you can prove your child was the natural child of the father, you do not have to show that the father gave you any money.  You must show that your child is a legal or actual dependent of his father for support.

How do I prove who the father is? +

When you apply, take with you any and all proof of your child’s relationship to his father.

 

Proof may include the following:

 

Birth certificates that the father signed;

 

Baptism or other church documents that the father signed;

 

Photographs of the father together with you or your child;

 

Envelopes or bills with the father’s name on them, when you can prove that the address was also yours;

 

School records listing the father or giving him permission to pick up your child;

 

Obituary notice or church burial services listing your child as the father’s;

 

Birthday, gift or other cards or letters from the father, to you, your child or to others, talking about your child as his child;

 

Records from businesses or agencies showing the father paid utilities, rent, or other bills for you and the child;

 

Records from the welfare agency, food stamp agency, District Attorney’s office, or other government agency listing the child’s father;

 

Statements from friends and relatives to whom the father spoke of your child as his child;

 

Any other evidence that might show the relationship of your child to his father.

What else do I need to do to help my child’s claim? +

Having a lawyer may help your child win the claim.  However, having a lawyer is not enough to win.  You must have enough proof to show that your child is entitled to SS benefits.

 

If the father of your child is still living, it’s important that you gather now the proof that you may need later.

 

Consider filing a paternity suit to have the alleged father recognized as the father of the child.  If you go to the District Attorney’s office they should help you.

 

If you receive government assistance but have not named the father, consider filing for paternity.  Keep any letters or cards the father sends to you.  Take photographs of the father together with you and your child.

My child’s claim has been denied by Social Security. What are my rights? +

If Social Security denies your child’s application, appeal right away.  You only have 60 days from the date of the denial notice.  Get a lawyer’s help or advice if you can.

 

You will have the right to a hearing and speak with a judge.  Your child’s chances of succeeding are greater if you have a lawyer.  However, you have the right to go to the hearing without a lawyer.

Where can I get a lawyer? Are there free legal services? +

The N.O. Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Services:  (504) 561-8828.  The Baton Rouge Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service:  (225) 344-9926.  You can look in the yellow pages under attorney listing.  You can ask family and friends for referrals.  People with low income and few resources may be eligible for free legal services from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, www.slls.org:

 

New Orleans: (504)529-1000, ext. 242

Harvey: (504) 340-1381

Hammond: (985) 345-2130

Covington: (985) 893-0076

Baton Rouge: (225) 448-0080

Houma: (985) 851-5687

Last Review and Update: Mar 16, 2020