Social Security Benefits for Single Parents

By Laurie Rappeport

Mother image by Mat Hayward from

Parents who raise their children without the help of a spouse may find themselves struggling with frustrations and difficulties that two-parent families don't face. Children who grow up in a single-parent family often need extra care and attention, additional social services and increased support. Financial help can't alleviate all of the extras that single parents need to worry about, but it can help. Social Security benefits for specific eligible cases exists.


When a person dies who had been working for 10 years or more and paying Social Security taxes during that time, the spouse may receive Social Security benefits if the spouse cares for the deceased’s child. This includes surviving spouses who care for a child who did not reach the age of 16. In addition, a single parent of a surviving child up to the age of 19 (if the child attends high school full time) may also be eligible for Social Security benefits.

Single Parents of Disabled Children

Single parents of disabled children may receive benefits if their income and resources do not exceed Social Security’s allowed limits and if the child has a condition or impairment that meets the Social Security’s Disability for Children definition. Either the single parent or the deceased parent must have worked long enough to meet the criteria for Social Security insurance.

Disabled Single Parents

Disabled single parents may receive benefits if the Social Security Administration recognizes their disability or if the Social Security Administration confirms that their condition or impairment constitutes a recognized disability. Disabled single parents must have worked enough quarters, or their deceased/divorced spouse must have worked enough quarters to entitle them to disability benefits.


Disabled single parents or single parents who care for disabled children and receive Social Security benefits may apply for Medicare insurance for their family’s medical care.


Individuals who have questions about their eligibility to Social Security benefits may call the Social Security Administration from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST Monday to Friday at 800-772-1213.