Ask Terry Questions Child Social Security benefits upon his father’s death.

Child Social Security benefits upon his father’s death.

By Terry Savage on June 27, 2024 | Wild Card

My son’s father died in 2015 when he was 11. I applied for and received SS survivor’s benefits for him. My son is now 20 and in college but we received a letter from SSA asking us to pay back over $22,000 of his benefits as he worked in high school. They state he made too much money. I have appealed this and it took them over 16 months to reply but they are stating to pay it back in full now.

Terry Says

If this were happening today — a minor child, receiving parental SS benefits because of the death of a parent — the earnings limit would be $22,230.  It was lower in previous years, of course.  For example, in 2020 it was $18,240 .  But I have a real problem believing that during high school, your son could have earned over the annual earnings limit!

Did your son file a tax return during those years between age 11 and 20?  Can you make a list of his gross wages for each of those years.  I can’t immediately find the limits for the past 11 years during which he was collecting child survivor benefits.

If you appealed, did SS give you the exact amount of his earnings they counted for  every year that it is reclaiming? Was it EVERY year?  Did you get any details.

Your son should set up a MYSSA account  (Create an Account | my Social Security | SSA) and he can track his reported earnings there.  Was there some sort of mistake in the earnings credits in his account?

And where did you appeal?  Did you file a form to do that, or just call them and ask about it?

Please gather all this info and respond to the email you get saying”your question was answered.”  Maybe I can point you in a better direction to get this resolved.









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