When you start receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Agency (SSA), your family members also claim dependent benefits. How much they will get depends on your benefit amount and what type of disability benefits you are receiving.
Remember that there are two types of disability benefits: SSDI and SSI. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for those who have worked enough years and paid social security taxes. While Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for low-income disabled individuals who do not qualify for SSDI. Only dependents of SSDI beneficiaries are eligible for dependent benefits.
Of course, not all of your family members can claim dependent benefits. The SSA only gives out benefits to your qualified dependents.
Definition of “Dependent”
In the dictionary, a dependent is defined as someone who relies on another as a primary source of income. This definition holds true for disability benefits too.
According to the SSA, dependents refer to certain family members who rely on the disabled beneficiary financially. This may include your current spouse, ex-spouse, children, and grandchildren. If they meet the SSA’s qualification, they can claim family benefits on top of your disability benefits.
Who Are Your Qualified Dependents?
As mentioned, not all of your family members can qualify as dependents. They can only be eligible for additional benefits if they meet the following qualifications:
Your spouse can only claim dependent benefits if:
- He/she is 62 years or older. Note that collecting spousal benefits before full retirement age (62 years) is illegal and your spouse could be penalized.
- He/she is caring for your child who is below 16 years old or disabled. In cases like these, they can claim benefits no matter their age.
If your spouse is already receiving SSA benefits based on his/her own record, he/she will receive the higher amount between the two.
Even if you have remarried, your ex-spouse may still be eligible for dependent benefits if you had been married for at least 10 years. Provided also that he/she is:
- 62 years or older;
- not eligible for equivalent or higher SSA benefits whether on his/her own account or someone else’s
Your ex-spouse’s benefit amount will not affect your current spouse’s benefits.
Dependent children may refer to your biological, adopted, or stepchildren. All of them can be eligible for benefits if they are:
- aged 17 and below;
- disabled and the disability occurred before the age of 22;
Dependent benefits will stop once the child turns 18. Unless, they are a fulltime student at an elementary or secondary school. In this case, the benefits will continue until they graduate or two months after they turn 19, whichever comes first.
Your children or step-grandchildren may also be considered qualified dependents if:
- their parents are deceased or disabled;
- they have begun living with you before the age of 18;
- they’ve received at least half of their financial support from you in the year before you became eligible for SSDI.
How Much Can Your Dependents Claim?
Each of your qualified dependent may receive monthly payments of up to 50% of your disability benefits. But the total amount of all benefits your family members are receiving must not exceed the SSA’s limit.
In general, the total amount you and your family can receive ranges between 150% to 180% of your disability benefits. If the total amount exceeds the limit, each dependent will receive a reduced benefit. It, however, will not affect your disability benefits amount.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.