Can I leave Social Security to my son in my will when I die?


Q. I am unmarried but have an adult son. I am currently on Social Security disability. Will he be able to receive any of my Social Security benefits when I die? A few of my friends have told me that I can will my unpaid benefits to him? I’ve never heard of this.
— Planning

A. Let’s go over some background.

Right now you’re receiving disability benefits.

When you reach full retirement age as defined by the Social Security Administration and your disability benefit converts to a retirement benefit, said Jean McAllister, a certified financial planner with Peapack Private Wealth Management in Bedminster.

She said this conversion is automatic, requires no action on your part and does not impact the level of your benefit.

We’re going to assume your adult son is over the age of 19 and does not currently qualify for a child’s benefit based on your disability or based on his own disability.

If these assumptions are correct, he would not qualify for any benefit when you transition to retirement benefit, she said.

But if he is younger and does qualify for a child benefit based on your benefit, he would continue to receive a child benefit as long as he is unmarried and under the age of 18, or 19 and still a full time high school student, McAllister said. At the point he reaches 19 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first, he would cease to qualify for a child benefit, she said.

There are no provisions for willing Social Security benefits to a surviving adult child, McAllister said.

“The Social Security Administration does provide for survivor benefits for spouses and for minor or disabled adult children,” she said. “Surviving children are entitled

to benefits at the passing of a parent until the earlier of high school graduation or attaining age 19.”

You should contact the Social Security Administration with additional questions so it can advise you based on your personal records. The number is (800) 772-1213.

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This story was originally published on Feb. 19, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.