Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI). I understand that if I have children they might, under specific circumstances, also qualify for benefits. Can you tell me more about SSDI auxiliary benefits and whether my kids can receive them?”
SSDI and auxiliary benefits overview
If you have a severe health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and does not allow you to work, you may qualify for SSDI benefits. To qualify, however, you must also have worked and earned work credit to be considered insured for benefits.
SSDI wage replacement benefits, however, may also be paid to certain family members, such as a spouse or dependent children. These benefits are called auxiliary benefits.
Who qualifies for SSDI auxiliary benefits?
Not all children will qualify for SSDI auxiliary benefits. Eligible children can include biological children, adopted children and stepchildren. In some cases, grandchildren may also qualify.
Additionally, to qualify, children must be unmarried, and under the age of 18 or 18 to 19 years old and a full-time student in high school or younger. Children with disabilities may qualify for auxiliary benefits over the age of 18 if their disability started prior to the age of 22 (assuming they meet the SSA’s definition of disability and they do not have the ability to work or perform substantial gainful activity (SGA)).
Note: children do not have to be disabled to get SSDI auxiliary benefits under the age of 18.
How do I ensure my child will get auxiliary benefits?
To ensure your child receives auxiliary benefits you will need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you have children who may qualify. Ideally, you need to let them know when you first apply for SSDI benefits. If you have failed to do this, however, you can call them after you have applied.
To notify the SSA you can either call them at 1-800-772-1213 or visit the nearest SSA field office. Make sure you have information about your child, including their birth certificate and their Social Security number. If your child is adopted you will need information about their adoption.
How much will my child receive in auxiliary benefits?
Assuming your child or children qualify for SSDI auxiliary benefits the amount that they may receive will vary based on the amount of taxes you have paid into the Social Security Trust Fund through your employment taxes and the amount of your average wages over the course of your employment.
With this said, children can only receive up to 50% of your monthly disability payments. Keep in mind, however, that there is a family cap (generally 150% to 180% of your SSDI monthly payment- including your payment). This means that if you have other family members who qualify for SSDI auxiliary benefits then the amount provided for each qualifying family member may be lower than 50%.
If you qualify for SSDI benefits your child may qualify for SSDI auxiliary benefits on your work record. Consider, however, auxiliary benefits are only offered for SSDI benefits. If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), auxiliary benefits are not offered to other family members.
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