If you are considering adopting a child whose legal parent(s) pre-deceased the adoption, it is imperative that you apply for social security survivor’s benefits before effectuating the adoption. Finalizing the adoption without these in place is a death knell for survivor’s benefits; however, establishing the benefits because of the death of a legal parent allows the benefits to survive the adoption.
The custodian of the child (e.g. individual caretaker or custodial agency) is the appropriate individual to make application for the survivor’s benefits, and the granting of the benefits will be made if the deceased parent meets the qualifications (e.g. worked X number of hours, etc.). The child can receive up to 75% of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit.
For additional information about applying for survivor’s benefits for a child, see: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10085.pdf.
To make application, plan to need, at least, the following:
Child’s birth certificate
Parent’s death certificate