Social Security Disability Family Benefits

Family benefits

After you claim Social Security disability benefits, particular family members could meet criteria to receive benefits based on your earnings record. Benefits could be given to your:

  • spouse;
  • divorced spouse;
  • children;
  • disabled child; and/or
  • adult child disabled before age 22.

Once a qualifying member of your family submits an application for Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration will request their Social Security numbers as well as their certificates of birth. The SSA could request proof of marriage and dates of any prior marriages when applicable if your spouse submits an application for benefits.

Maximum Family Amount

Every member of your family could be eligible for a monthly stipend of up to 50% of your disability rate. Make a note; the SSA imposes a limit on how much they will pay your family.

The amount paid is based on your disability benefit amount and the number of family members who are qualified due to your record. The amount differs, but typically the total you and your family can earn is around 150% to 180% of your disability benefit.

If the total amount of benefits that are paid based on your record is larger than the family limit, the benefits to the members of your family will be lowered appropriately. Your actual benefit will not be reduced or increased.

If you have a divorced spouse who can submit an application for benefits, it will not influence the total benefit amount you or your family can be paid.

Benefits For Your Spouse

When benefits are payable to your spouse:

  • Age 62 or older, unless they receive an increased Social Security benefit due to their earnings record. The spouse benefit amount will be permanently reduced by a percentage determined on how many months up to their full retirement age.
  • At any age, if they are caring for your child under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits.
  • Your spouse would receive these benefits until the child reaches age 16. At that time, the child’s benefits continue, but your spouse’s benefits stop unless he or she is old enough to receive retirement benefits (age 62 or older) or survivor benefits as a widow or widower (age 60).

If Your Spouse Also Worked Under Social Security

If your spouse qualifies to receive retirement benefits based on their own earnings record, the SSA will always award that amount first. However, if the spouse benefit that is paid based on your earnings record is a larger amount, they will receive a combination of benefits that total that larger amount.

Regardless if your spouse begins receiving benefits before, after, or during the same time as you; the SSA will review both earnings records to determine that your spouse gets the larger amount whenever they become entitled to receive it.

If your spouse expects to get a pension that’s determined on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, their Social Security benefit on your earnings record could be affected.

Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse

If you are divorced, regardless if you’ve remarried, your ex-spouse could qualify for benefits based on your record.

If your ex-spouse expects to receive a pension determined by work not included in Social Security, such as government or foreign work, their Social Security benefit based on your earnings record may be affected.

To be eligible for benefits based on your earnings record, your ex-spouse needs to:

  • have been married to you for at least 10 years;
  • be at least 62 years old;
  • be unmarried; and
  • not be eligible for an equal or higher benefit on his or her own Social Security record, or on someone else’s Social Security record.

The total of benefits that can be paid to your divorced spouse has no influence on the total of benefits you or your current spouse may be paid.

Benefits For Your Children

When you’re eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits, your children could also be eligible to earn benefits based on your earnings record. Your qualifying child can be your biological child, adopted child, or stepchild. A dependent grandchild could also qualify.

To receive benefits, the child must be unmarried in addition to being:

  • under age 18; or
  • 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
  • 18 or older and have a disability that started before age 22.

Typically, benefits stop being paid when the child reaches age 18 unless they are disabled. But if the child is currently a full-time student at a secondary or elementary school at age 18, benefits won’t stop until the child graduates or until two months after the child reaches age 19, whichever comes first.

In your family, every qualifying child could receive a monthly benefit up to one-half of your full disability rate; keep in mind, there is a limit to how much the SSA will pay your family members.

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