Disability Benefits for Dependents: DAG Radio, Episode 4

Disability Benefits for Dependents article image

Jack Hawkins here with another episode of Disability Approval Guide Radio. Today we’re talking about disability benefits for dependents — who gets benefits because you’re disabled, when their benefits might stop, and what the exceptions are. We’ll talk about how your disabled child may qualify for benefits, how your spouse taking care of that child may qualify for benefits, and even how your ex-spouse may also be eligible for benefits. So get ready, we’ve got a lot of great information about disability benefits for dependents to share over the next 10 minutes:

Family: The Scariest Part of Disability

When you first heard that you were disabled, what was your first thought? Probably not your hobbies. Maybe how you’ll be able to adjust and find a way to make money. But ultimately, people’s thoughts tend to go straight to how to keep their family fed, clothed, and sheltered.

If you’re a candidate for disability benefits, then you’re very likely to still have kids at home. Your spouse may have some work outside of the home, or he or she may still be working hard keeping your kids going at school, paying bills, and running the house. When you become disabled, they are all affected, and disability benefits just for you may not be enough to cover the basics when you have people depending on you. The good news is that you can get disability benefits for dependents.

Child Dependent Qualifications

To receive benefits, the child must be unmarried and be:

  • biological, adopted, or a stepchild; and
  • under age 18; or
  • 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
  • 18 or older and have a disability that started before age 22.

College students are not included if they are over 18. If you’re now facing a mountain of tuition, make sure you have your college student look into a program called FAFSA, free application for federal student aid. It’s very likely that your new situation will qualify them for aid that will offset student loans.

Disability Benefits for Dependents: Spousal Payments

Your spouse will be eligible for disability benefits at age 62. If he or she is passed retirement age and is already collecting a higher Social Security benefit, then he or she is set and won’t receive more.

However, your spouse is also eligible at any age if he or she is caring for your child under age 16, or a disabled child already receiving Social Security benefits. When your child turns 16, your child’s benefits continue, but your spouse’s benefits stop until age 62 or older.

Special rules may apply if your spouse worked a job and paid Social Security tax—ask a disability attorney about your specific situation.

Ex-spouse Eligibility

Here’s an interesting law that, frankly, I don’t quite understand. But it’s there, so I want you to know about it. Your ex-spouse may qualify for benefits, even if you are remarried. To my knowledge, this won’t decrease the benefits that you receive.

Here are the qualifications for your ex-spouse (and don’t worry—it’s actually kind of hard to meet them all). He or she must:

  • have been married to you for at least 10 years; and
  • be at least 62 years old; and
  • be unmarried; and
  • not be eligible for an equal or higher benefit on his or her own Social Security record, or on someone else’s Social Security record.

Disability Benefits for Dependents: Getting Benefits for a Disabled, Dependent Adult Child

That’s a complicated section title, so let’s look at it this way: Let’s say your daughter has Downs Syndrome or was in an accident and is now a quadriplegic, and she meets the requirements for disability. When she gets older, she still can’t work, so does she phase out of the system? No. So she is an adult child receiving disability benefits for dependents.

There are other qualifying situations involving disability benefits for dependents, and they can be very drastic. If you will be taking care of your child for the rest of your life and theirs, talk to an attorney. They can help.

To qualify, the disabled impairment must have started before age 22, and your child must meet the definition of disability for adults.

What’s the Maximum Family Amount in Disability Benefits for Dependents?

Here is what the SSA has said about the Maximum Family Amount. I’ve pieced together quotes from several places to get a clearer picture about maximizing disability benefits for dependents. I’ll discuss this topic in next week’s episode.

From the SSA page “Disability Planner: Family Benefits“:

“Each family member may be eligible for a monthly benefit of up to 50 percent of your disability rate. However, there is a limit to the amount we can pay your family.

“The total depends on your benefit amount and the number of family members who also qualify on your record. The total varies, but generally the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your disability benefit.

“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.”

And from the SSA page “Maximum Benefit for a Disabled-Worker Family“:

“The family maximum for a family of a disabled worker is 85 percent of the worker’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). However, it cannot be less than the worker’s PIA nor more than 150 percent of the PIA.”

We’re going to tackle the nitty-gritty details of maximum family amounts in next week’s episode, so stay tuned.

If your ready to talk with a disability advocate or attorney, we can help you. Whether it’s learning how to maximize disability benefits for dependents or appealing a denial, our lawyers always work on contingency. That means you’ll pay nothing to get professional help with your claim. Our free benefits evaluation can tell you online in just minutes whether you may qualify for SSDI. To start your own free evaluation, click the button below now.

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation