It depends on a number of factors: first would be, had your mother, before she died, earned enough quarters of coverage to be what SSA calls "fully insured" at her time of death. If not, there might've been no benefit for you to apply for.
Here is a link to some information about survivors' benefits: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survivorplan/ifyou4.htm and http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survivorplan/ifyou.htm You may no longer be eligible for survivor's benefits if you are over 18 (or 19 if HS not completed until 19).
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What you are asking about is Social Security Survivors' Benefits, which is really no more than government sponsored "life insurance" for working people. Your individual case may depend on many factors, but I strongly suggest you read the attached PDF describing eligibility for Survivor Benefits in general, and then contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 if you think you may be eligible. It never hurts to apply, and as oposed to a Social Security Disability application, this one is easy. Good luck!
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You are asking about survivorship benefits from age 10 to age 18. As others have said why not apply? You have nothing to lose.
This response is meant to be information only and should not be considered to be legal advice. This information is not meant and should not be construed to be the formation of an attorney client relationship. I practice Virginia Workers compensation law and Social Security Disability law.
Generally, an application for Social Security survivor's benefits for a child can only go back 6 months.
For SSA, a child is defined as under age 18; ages 18-19 and a full-time student not yet graduated from high school; or a disabled adult child who is incapable of substantial work and became disabled before age 22.
You don't say how old you are; or if you are in school (high school or less); or if you are totally disabled to work. Generally, if you are older than 19 1/2 and not disabled, then you would not be entitled to any retroactive Social Security child's benefits.
Also, as my colleague noted, for any SS child's benefits to be payable, your mother must have had sufficient work history, paying Social Security taxes on a certain amount of earnings over a certain number of years.
This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship. This communication offers general information based on the limited facts set out in the question, and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. For specific legal advice, consult an attorney in your state who is knowledgeable in this area of law.