Family is one of the world's most beautiful blessings. Yet, anything that befalls upon families worries you.
If you are someone who is the sole major responsible person for your family, but have been unable to meet their financial needs, do not worry. The Social Security Administration allows upto 150% of the disabled family member's Social Security Disability Insurance monthly benefit amount.
The Social Security benefits related to family are widely known as dependent's or auxiliary benefits. Fortunately, the families of disabled workers receiving SSDI benefits due to disability, are also able to apply for these auxiliary benefits.
Eligibility for Family Benefits
If you are receiving SSDI payments, then the following family members will be able to apply for dependent's benefits:
- - spouse;
- - divorced spouse;
- - children;
- - disabled child; and
- - adult child disabled before age 22.
So, if any of the above family member(s) apply for dependent benefits on your SSDI number, then each will be required for their own SSDI number and birth certificates. In case that the applicant is your spouse, then he/she would be required to produce proof of marriage through a marriage certificate or notary.
**Note that if you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, then your family members won't be eligible for SSDI family benefits program.
Maximum Amount of Family Benefits
Each family member is able to apply for family benefits with a maximum earnable amount between 50% to 100% of the monthly disability benefit payable to the disabled worker. The amount each family member is eligible for, will depend on various factors. These include:
- -Your total eligible benefit's amount, and
- -The number of family members who qualify for the record, and
- -Whether the family member is a minor child, a disabled adult child, a retirement-aged spouse, or a young parent taking care of minor or disabled children.
A general rule of thumb is, the maximum amount payable to each member will not be more than 150% to 180% of your SSDI disability benefits amount. (Previously, this amount used to be 50% to 80% pre-COVID 19 pandemic).
Effect of Auxiliary Family Benefits on SSDI Benefits
If a family member applies for these benefits, it doesn't affect your SSDI amount. Moreover, if the sum of the benefits payable on your account is greater than the family limit, the benefits to the family members will be reduced proportionately. Your benefit will not be affected in any case.
Effect of a Divorce on Family Benefits
However, benefits paid to a divorced spouse who is eligible for benefits based on taking care of the disabled worker's minor or disabled children do count toward the maximum family benefit. This means that benefits paid to a divorced spouse who is not disabled and under age 60 will count toward the maximum family benefit (because the divorced spouse must be receiving a mother's or father's benefit).
Determining the Maximum Family Benefits and Eligibility
The Social Security Administration has set up three rules to determine the maximum amount of family benefits and eligibility:
- -The Maximum Family Benefit cannot exceed 150% of the disabled Primary Insurance Amount;
- -The Maximum Family Benefit can be no higher than 85% of the disabled family member's average indexed monthly earnings (AIME, which is the average of their earnings over many years)
- -The Maximum Family Benefit cannot fall below the disabled family member's primary insurance amount
Although the rules seem contradicting each other, that is not the case. The rule of the rules here is that the Maximum Family Benefits would be less than 85% of your AIME or 150% of your PIA, whichever is larger.
Benefits for your Spouse
- -Age 62 or older, unless he or she collects a higher Social Security benefit based on his or her earnings record. The spouse benefit amount will be permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months until his or her full retirement age.
- -At any age if he or she is caring for your child under age 16 or disabled. Your spouse would receive these benefits until the child reaches age 16. At that time, the child's benefits continue, but your spouse's benefits stop unless he or she is old enough to receive retirement benefits (age 62 or older) or survivor benefits as a widow or widower (age 60)
If your spouse also worked under Social Security, the SSA would always pay that amount first. But if the spouse benefit that is payable on your record is a higher amount, he or she will get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount.
Benefits for Other Family Members
- §- An ex-spouse may be entitled to benefits on the former spouse's earnings record if the marriage lasted at least ten years prior to the divorce, the applicant is at least 62 years old and unmarried and not eligible for a higher payment based on his own earnings record.
- §- A spouse is eligible for benefits based on the other spouse's earnings record if he or she is at least 62 years old or older.
- §- A parent who is 62 years old or older, unmarried, and financially dependent on the disabled worker, if the worker has passed away.
- §- A biological child or adopted child or stepchild of a disabled worker may be eligible for benefits based on the parent's earnings record if unmarried and under age 18 (or age 19 if a full-time student no higher than grade twelve in a high school, or any age if disabled).
For more queries on family benefits, you can contact the best social security attorneys here.