Who is eligible for benefits under my account and how do I get them benefits?
If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), then some members of your family may also be able to receive monthly benefits under your work record. Only certain family members meet Social Security Administration (SSA) eligibility rules, and the rules that govern who gets benefits and how much they receive are a bit complex, but here’s the gist of it.
The people who qualify under your work record may include your spouse, biological child, legal ward, adopted child, or in some cases a grandchild or stepchild. Each person deemed eligible on your work record or SSDI account must be your legal dependent and must meet other eligibility requirements:
- Spouse – a spouse can qualify for dependent benefits if one of the follow is true:
- He or she is 62 years old or older
- Your spouse is the caregiver of a child who is under age 16
- Your husband or wife is the caregiver of a disabled child, no matter how old the child may be
- Children (including any legal ward, adopted child, or biological child) – children qualify for SSDI dependent benefits based on their age, marital status, student status, and whether or not they too have a qualified disability. Your child can receive benefits on your account under several different conditions. Specifically, a child must be:
- 18 years old or younger and unmarried
- 19 year old, unmarried, and still a full-time high school student
- 18 or older, unmarried, and disabled, with a disability onset date before his or her 22nd birthday
- Grandchildren and Stepchildren – your grandchildren or stepchildren can additionally receive dependent or auxiliary benefits through your SSDI account if all of the following are true:
- The child’s parents are disabled or deceased
- He or she is 18 year old or younger and lives with you
- You financially funded at least half of the child’s support in the year prior to your disability eligibility date OR, if the child is under one year of age, you must have provided at least half of his or her financial support since birth
Notably, disabled adult children can also qualify for benefits on their own, even if they are married in some cases. Ex-spouses can additionally qualify under your work history record, if you were married for 10 years or longer.
How Much Dependents Receive
The SSA limits the total amount of dependent benefits available to a single family through SSDI. Each dependent can receive a monthly payment that is 50% of your own SSDI payment. The grand total that all your dependents receive on your record cannot exceed 150% to 180% of your monthly SSDI however. In other words, if you have several dependents who are eligible, the SSA will reduce the amount each dependent receives so total dependent benefits don’t exceed program limits.
Applying for Dependent Benefits
You can apply for dependent or auxiliary benefits at the same time that you apply for disability for yourself, though you can also submit dependent benefit applications later. Whether you apply online via the SSA’s website or at your local SSA office, you’ll need to complete additional forms to request spouse or child benefits. An SSA representative can assist you or you can get help from a Social Security advocate or attorney, social worker, or a friend or family member.