Your Social Security Advisor

College Benefits for Dependent Child – Ask Rusty

taxpayer dollars money benefits dependentDear Rusty:  I am an older father, having recently been blessed with another child from my second marriage.  I started collecting Social Security at my full retirement age and although my current wife is not yet eligible to receive benefits, I now have a young child whose future I need to worry about.  So I’m wondering: is there any way Social Security will help pay for my child’s future college education when that time comes?  Signed:  Older Father

Dear Older Father:  Well, Social Security won’t pay the tuition for your child directly, but since you’re already collecting benefits and have a young child from your second marriage, your dependent child is entitled to up to half the Social Security amount you are collecting.  If you haven’t already, you should apply for this benefit right away.  Then what you may do for your child is take advantage of what some haved called a “Viagra College Fund”, that is, a Qualified Tuition Plan authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.  This is often referred to simply as a 529 Plan, and every U.S. state and the District of Columbia, as well as many educational institutions, offer at least one type of 529 plan.  You may want to establish a 529 for your dependent child and then deposit their Social Security benefits into that plan.  There are two types of 529 plans – prepaid tuition plan and college savings plan.  The former allows you to purchase tuition credits at a participating university and the latter simply establishes a savings account to be used for future college expenses.  As you might expect, there are plenty of rules governing these plans, and you can find out much of what you need to know at You are to be commended for thinking so far ahead for your young dependent’s future.  Your minor child’s Social Security dependent benefit could be as much as 50% of your benefit, and will normally continue until they are 18 years of age (or 19 if still a student or disabled), so a substantial amount of college savings could be accumulated in the 529 by the time he or she attends college.

The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at [email protected].

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Donna Majors
3 years ago

Ok…Just joined today, so my comment is very late but I have something to ask Older Father…are you receiving monthly benefits for your child on your current SS claim? If so, why not put some of that away for college? I have a savings account and $25 is put in it every month for my dependant. I am a 63 year old disabled, widowed grandmother raising a 14 year old grandson and I struggle to just give him what he needs, let alone any extras! I have full custody through Family Court systems but cannot receive any benefits for him because I would have to legally adopt him to receive anything. I don’t want to do that for personal and family issues reasons. I would love to see that law changed back to the old system of legal custody being enough to receive benefits. Some months even an extra $25 would go a long way toward making ends meet. His mother is still in the picture and helps as much as she can but I still struggle every month just to feed and clothe him and let’s not even get into sports, uniforms and equipment…I know that I am not the only grandparent having this issue as I meet them daily at school and events. But this turned into a rant and that was not my intention..just wondered if anyone has any insight or suggestions without making snide or nasty remarks.

4 years ago

Ok, i know I’m gonna take a lot of flak from this, but who cares. The old man stuck it in, he should stick it out. Why in the hell does SS (me) owe this kid 10 cents? This is just absurd. You have any idea what this could amount to? Thousands and thousands of $ how do ya even know if this kid is smart enough to go to college? This is exactly why I think you over educated -astards are so full of it. Who cares if this kid goes to college, or becomes a clown? Geez, just when I think ive heard it all.

4 years ago
Reply to  SARGE

I actually liked your response. My perspective is if someone fathers a child, it is the responsibility of that person to take care of that child’s needs. It is called personal responsibility. Gee, what a radical concept that is today huh?

Ivan Berry
4 years ago
Reply to  SARGE

Does anyone wonder why SS benefits reached the trillion mark recently? Sarge, I am with you on this one. Parents should think ahead, yes, but not be praised for sending the bill to the rest of the country, as did the author above, praise, I mean.
He should have been thinking before he sired a dependant for others to support. Gimme gimme.

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