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Can children born outside of marriage get auxiliary benefits?

Do children born outside of marriage qualify for disability benefits on the parent's record?

Any biological child may qualify for disability benefits as a dependent under his or her parent’s work record or earnings history—whether or not the child was born to married parents.

For a child to qualify for disability benefits under the record of a parent, the parent in question must be listed on the child’s birth certificate.

It is important to note that children can qualify for disability benefits in two ways:

  • If the child is disabled, he or she may potentially qualify for disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides benefits to low income disabled workers or children.

OR

  • If the child is or is not disabled, he or she may potentially qualify for disability benefits as a dependent of a parent who is qualified to receive Social Security benefits through any of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) benefit programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Old Age (retirement) benefits.

In order to qualify as a dependent for Social Security disability benefits, the child must have:

  • a parent who is receiving payments through Old Age (retirement) benefits, OR
  • a parent who is receiving SSDI benefits, OR
  • a parent who is deceased who, at the time of death, had a sufficient work history to qualify for Social Security benefits.

To qualify for disability benefits under the parent’s work record, whether as a dependent or as a disabled (minor or adult) child, the child must be:

  • unmarried, AND
  • under age 18, OR
  • age 18 to 19 and a full-time student in high school, OR
  • disabled and over the age of 18, with a disability that began before the age of 22.

If a minor child qualifies for disability benefits due to his or her own disability, then benefits are paid through the SSI program.

If a disabled adult child (over the age of 18) qualifies for benefits under a parent’s work record, benefits are paid through SSDI.

If, however, the child qualifies as a dependent, then he or she may possibly receive benefits through both SSDI and SSI, provided that the parent meets the eligibility criteria to receive benefits through both programs.

Even if a child is not living with the parent under whose record he or she qualifies for benefits, disability payments can still be made.