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August 14, 2011

Include Social Security form in school checklist

If your son or daughter is a high school student turning 18, you’ve probably spent some time shopping for school supplies and the latest fashions, working out the schedule for the academic year, maybe even looking into colleges.

If your young senior is collecting monthly Social Security benefits, here’s one more thing to add to your “Back-to-School” checklist.

To make sure that Social Security benefits continue beyond age 18, eligible students must obtain certification from school officials that they are still in high school and provide it to Social Security. Otherwise, monthly Social Security benefits automatically stop when a student turns 18.

For more information about Social Security student benefits, visit www.social

security.gov/

schoolofficials. The website outlines how the process works with instructions on what the student and school official must do to ensure that benefits continue past the student’s 18th birthday. With the appropriate certification, Social Security generally does not stop benefits until the month before the student turns 19, or the first month in which he or she is not a full-time high school student, whichever is earlier.

Some students receive Social Security survivors benefits because a parent is deceased. Others may get dependent benefits because their parent receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Benefits for minor children generally continue until age 18 — or 19 if they’re still in high school. The only exception to this rule is if a student is disabled and eligible for childhood disability benefits. In that case, a separate application for benefits is required.

Social Security’s website also includes:

n a downloadable version of the required Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance (Form SSA-1372) that must be completed by the student, certified by the school, and returned to Social Security;

n answers to frequently asked questions for school officials and students; and

n a field office locator to find the address of your local Social Security office.

So as you’re buying school supplies, trying out back-to-school fashions, and figuring out when the holiday break begins, don’t forget the important step of visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/schoolofficials.

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