Social Security and Adoption

The most common questions about social security and adoption that adoptees ask are:

  • “Can an adopted child receive social security benefits from their adoptive parents?”
  • “Can an adopted child receive social security benefits from their biological parents?”

The guide below will help you learn more about how adoptees are affected by their parents’ social security benefits:

Can an Adopted Child Receive Social Security Benefits from their Adoptive Parents?

You’re legally connected to your adoptive parents, but not to your birth/biological parents. So, you’re eligible to receive social security benefits from your adoptive parents, but typically not from your birth parents.

A person’s adopted children and “natural”/biological children will need to meet the same requirements to be eligible to receive that person’s social security benefits, as they’re equal in the eyes of the law. You can learn more about a child’s eligibility to receive their parent’s social security benefits here.

If your adoptive parent is retiring, you may qualify to receive their social security retirement benefits if you:

  • Are unmarried, and
  • Are under 18, or you’re 18-19 and a full-time student in grade 12 or below, or
  • Are 18 or older and have a disability that began prior to age 22

A person’s adopted and “natural” children receive equal benefits. This is true for survivor benefits and disability benefits, as well.

Can Adopted Children Receive Social Security Benefits from their Birth Parents?

You would typically only be eligible to receive social security benefits from your birth parents if you were adopted as result of their death and you received survivor benefits. In adoptions where your birth parents are living but have terminated their legal parental rights to you, you are no longer legally connected. Therefore, you’re not legally eligible to receive their social security benefits, unlike your adoptive parents.

If your adoptive parents are a same-sex couple, the process and benefits are still generally the same. The Social Security Administration has helpful information about same-sex couples and social security here.

There are many situations in which a child may benefit from their parent’s social security. This article may answer some more situation-specific questions you might have about social security and adoption. Adoptees can benefit from their adoptive parents’ social security the same as anyone else, so your adoption won’t really affect the process.