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Are my family members eligible for SSD benefits?

If you receive Social Security Disability benefits and have a family, members of your family may also qualify for benefits.

First, though, whether or not your family members qualify for benefits depends on the type of benefits you receive. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your family members may also qualify for benefits. If you receive Supplement Security Income (SSI), your family members do not qualify for benefits. 

Which family members qualify for my SSDI benefits?

Spouses: May be eligible for SSDI dependents’ benefits if a) spouse is 62 or older; or b) spouse is caring for a child who is under the age of 16 or disabled, and qualifies for SSDI dependents’ benefits (see below).

Ex-spouses (after at least a 10-year marriage): May be eligible for SSDI dependents’ benefits if the ex-spouse is a) is not married; b) 62 or older; and c) not entitled to a greater benefit from his or her own earning record.

Children (biological children, adopted children, and dependent stepchildren): May be eligible for SSDI dependents’ benefits if child is a) unmarried; and b) under the age of 18.

Adult Children (over the age of 18): May be eligible for SSDI dependents’ benefits if child is a) under the age of 19 and is a full-time student at a secondary school; or b) disabled and the disability occurred before the adult child turned 22.

Grandchildren (biological grandchildren, adopted grandchildren, and step-grandchildren): May be eligible for SSDI dependents’ benefits if all of the following are met: a) grandchild’s parents are deceased or disabled; b) grandchild has been living with grandparents before the age of 18; c) in the year before the grandparent became eligible for SSDI, the grandchild received at least half of his or her support from the grandparent; and d) for grandchildren under 12 months old: proven that child lived with grandparent and received at least half of his or her support from grandparent.

Each of these family members may be entitled to up to half of the monthly disability benefit you receive. However, the Social Security Administration places a limit on the amount of benefits a family can receive, which is typically 150 to 180 percent of your disability benefit.

Note: If your ex-spouse qualifies for benefits on your earning record, it does not affect your family’s maximum benefit amount.

Source: SSA.gov, “Disability Planner: Family Benefits,” accessed Nov. 19, 2014

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