Broker Check

The little known Child-in-Care Spousal Social Security Benefit

| June 26, 2020

Many wonder what happens when we and our spouses approach retirement age but are still caring for a child? This is a situation that can be more common than you think, particularly if the child has special needs. Currently, parents are claiming 1/6 children born today will have some sort of identifiable disability.

Social Security claiming strategies have one aim- maximize your benefit (although there are many factors we cannot control, such as life expectancy) All else equal, we may be able to markedly increase your social security benfit payout using the Child-in-Care Spousal benefit. 

The Social Security Administration has carved out a portion of the code: RS 00208.005 Child-in-Care Benefits to address this situation in detail (referance below)

Basically, in order to qualify, at least one spouse must be retired or collecting disability through Social Security 


You must have a child under age 16 or with a disability that is recieving child benefits based on your reitred or disabled spouse's work record

This strategy is similar to spousal benefits as we know them in that the spouse gets 1/2 of that higher earning spouse's primary insurance amount (PIA) However, the age 62 requirement does not apply to collect this child-in-care spousal benefit! There are some other caveats to carefully examine as well. 

Here is an example from that may help illustrate this concept: 

Joe and Mary are both age 62. Their daughter, Ellen, has special needs, meets the SS definition of having a disability and lives with them. Joe has a higher earnings history than Mary. A strategy that is available to them is as follows:

  • At age 62, Mary files for retirement benefits. Ellen files at that time for child benefits on Mary’s work record. Joe files for child-in-care spousal benefits. (This will be a restricted application — for just spousal benefits, not his own retirement benefit.)
  • When he reaches age 70, Joe files for his retirement benefit, at which point his child-in-care spousal benefit ends. Mary files for child benefits on Joe’s work record so that she can receive a larger child’s benefit. If applicable, Mary also files at this time for spousal benefits on Joe’s work record.

Are you curious about this and other Financial Planning strategies that could benefit you or your child with a special needs? Feel welcome to contact Alexander Petsis, our Chartered Special Needs Consultant® at 215-968-6638 or via email at today. 

Please feel welcome to consult the SSA.Gov website to learn more about the Child-in-Care Benefit: 

I have also referenced the following article: