SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home312. What does having a “child in care” mean?

Having a “child in care” is a basic requirement for some benefits, including spouse's benefits for a spouse under age 62 and for mother's and father's benefits (see §415). "In care" means:

  1. Exercising parental control and responsibility for the welfare and care of a child under age 16 or a mentally disabled child age 16 or over; or

  2. Performing personal services for a physically disabled child age 16 or over.

The mother or father may exercise parental control and responsibility or perform personal services alone or together. When the child in care turns 16, the parent may continue to receive benefits if the child is disabled and the parent meets the requirements for having a disabled child in care.

Last Revised: Feb. 4, 2008