Is an Informally Adopted Child Eligible for Auxiliary Benefits?

Submitted by Chris on

Although our most recent blog posts have focused on the Social Security Disability Appeal hearing, today we’ll be addressing the subject of auxiliary benefits. This question was sent to us through our interactive disability forum. As always, if you have a disability benefit question that you’d like us to answer, leave it in the comment section below. Today’s blog topic is:

My child was informally/unofficially adopted—will he or she be eligible to receive auxiliary benefits?

Auxiliary benefits, also referred to as dependents’ benefits, are available to the eligible family members of individuals who receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits. Through auxiliary benefits an eligible dependent can receive payment equal to 50% of the recipient’s monthly disability payments.

The exact amount of auxiliary benefits, however, is contingent upon work credits accumulated during the recipient’s employment. If a child in your care is informally or unofficially adopted, they may still qualify for auxiliary benefits if they meet certain criteria.

Unfortunately, auxiliary benefits apply solely to the SSDI program and are not available to the dependents of SSI recipients.

Auxiliary Benefits Criteria

In order to be eligible for auxiliary benefits, a child must be under 18 years old and unmarried. The exception to this rule is adult children who become disabled before age 22.

The dependent must be the spouse, ex-spouse, child, adult child, parent, or grandparent of the SSDI benefits recipient. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines dependent children as biological, adopted, or dependent step-children. The adoption or intent to adopt must be recognized by your state of residence in order for the child to be eligible for SSI benefits.

If the child who is informally/unofficially adopted is a grandchild of the SSDI recipient, the child may still qualify for benefits if:

  • He or she was under 18 years old when they first moved in with the grandparent(s)
  • His or her parent(s) are disabled or deceased.
  • If he or she is under 12 months old, they must have resided with the grandparent(s) and have received 50% or more of their support from the grandparent since birth.

What if my Child does not meet any of These Criteria?

If a child in your care is informally/unofficially adopted and does not meet one of the above listed criteria, it may still be beneficial to contact a SSA representative or a disability advocate attorney to evaluate the child’s eligibility for benefits. If it is deemed that the child is ineligible based upon the informality of the adoption or guardianship, the next step is to formally apply for legal guardianship or formalize the adoption through your state of residence.

Click here for more information regarding auxiliary benefits.

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