Program Description

Are you the surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse of an insured worker who died? Are you also caring for the worker's child? If so, you may be able to get Social Security Mother's or Father's Insurance Benefits.

General Program Requirements

As a surviving spouse with a child in your care, you must meet the conditions below to qualify:

  • Be the widow(er) of an insured worker.
  • Be unmarried.
  • Meet the marriage duration requirement.
  • Not be entitled to a widow(er)’s benefit.
  • Not be entitled to a higher Social Security retirement benefit on your own record.
  • Care for the worker's child who is one of the following:
    • Under age 16. Or
    • Disabled and entitled to child's insurance benefits on the worker’s earnings record.

If you're a surviving divorced spouse, the child in your care must be the worker's natural or legally adopted child who is entitled to child's benefits on the worker’s earning’s record. You must also meet the conditions below:

  • Have evidence of a finalized divorce.
  • Be unmarried.
  • Are not entitled to a higher Social Security retirement benefit on your own record.
  • Are not entitled to a widow(er)'s benefit.

Other terms and conditions also apply. You can get more information through the links provided below.

Application Process

Visit the For Your Parents page for details on how to apply.

To find out what other Social Security benefits you may qualify for, use the SSA Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) on When you complete the questionnaire, you get a list of benefits to review. You can print this page for your records.

When you know which benefits you may apply for, visit the Apply for Social Security Benefits page to apply online. You can also call the phone number below to learn more about benefits and how to apply.

Last Updated: 09/14/2020