If you are approved for SSDI, your child or children may get benefits. When you qualify, your children will also be eligible in many cases. The benefit amount available to your children will depend on how much you paid in, your benefit amount, and the number of qualifying family members you have.
If you have only one child, your child will likely receive about half of your monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit. Your children will not get additional benefits based on any Supplemental Security Income payments you receive.
Qualifications for Children to Receive SSDI Dependent Benefits
To receive dependent benefits, children must meet particular criteria. This includes:
- Being a biological, adopted, or dependent stepchild of an adult receiving SSDI
- Being unmarried
- Being under 18, or still enrolled in high school and under age 19
- Having a valid birth certificate and Social Security number
Grandparents raising grandchildren or step-grandchildren may also qualify these children for dependent benefits in certain circumstances. This includes:
- If their parents passed away; or
- If their parents suffer from a qualifying disability that prevents them from working; or
- You provide “regular support” for the child, usually at least half of their financial support; or
- The grandchildren lived with you at least a year before you became entitled for SSDI benefits
Often grandparents will adopt grandchildren under these circumstances or will receive legal custody through Pennsylvania courts. If this occurs, the rules for children of SSDI recipients would apply. If you have legal custody of your grandchildren, the Social Security Administration will evaluate their qualifications for dependent benefits as if they were your biological children.
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Understanding How Long Your Children Will Receive Benefits
As long as you continue to qualify for and draw SSDI benefits, your children will likely continue to receive dependent benefits until the month before they turn 18 years old. If they are still in high school at that time, their benefits will continue until:
- They graduate; or
- They leave school; or
- They turn 19 years old.
When the first of these events occurs, it will trigger the end of their benefits. The only exception to this is if your child also suffers from a disability. If your child suffers a disability and remains dependent on you, they can continue to receive dependent benefits. However, you may want to discuss this possibility with your claims representative or a disability attorney, especially if your child ever held a job. You may be able to get more money by having them apply for benefits based on their own earnings record.
Many parents who qualify for SSDI based on a chronic or terminal illness worry about what will happen to their children’s dependent benefits when the parent passes away. If you die before your child turns 18 or graduates high school, they will continue to receive benefits until they no longer meet the age requirement.
There Are Limits on How Much Your Eligible Family Members Can Receive
The Social Security Administration will only pay out between 150 and 180 percent of your disability benefit amount to you and your family. Since each child qualifies for up to 50 percent of your benefit amount, having one child maxes out your dependent benefits.
If your monthly benefit amount is $1,200, your child should receive $600 in dependent benefits. This totals 150 percent of your benefit amount. If you have two children, the Social Security Administration will not pay out an additional $600 for your other child. This would be 200 percent of your benefit amount, violating the program limits. Instead, the Social Security Administration will split the $600 dependent benefit between your two children, paying out $300 to each one.
This does not just include your children, but all family members who might qualify for dependent benefits. Some examples include:
- A spouse who cannot work, or is over age 62, or cares for a dependent child
- Grandchildren in your care
- Parents who are dependent on you for care and support
The Social Security Administration will never reduce your benefits based on these family limits. However, they will cut the benefits paid to each qualified member of your family proportionally until your household total is under the 150-180 percent limit.
Talk to a Pittsburgh Disability Attorney About Your Case
If you have a problem getting your child or children the benefits they deserve based on your SSDI case, a disability lawyer from Pennsylvania law firm Berger and Green can help you understand your options for obtaining the full benefits your family deserves.