If a disability prevents you from working to support your family, you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In some cases, your dependent child or children can also receive benefits. Several factors determine the benefits your children receive. These factors include the type of disability benefits you qualify for and how much you paid into the Social Security system before your disability.
SSDI vs. SSI: Type of Benefits Affects Whether Children Get Benefits
The government provides two types of benefits for the disabled: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Which you qualify for will affect whether your children get benefits.
If you get SSDI, your children may qualify for benefits too. But if you qualify for SSI, only the disabled individual (you) may receive benefits. (If your child is disabled, however, he or she may qualify for SSI.)
View our post on the differences between SSDI and SSI [link to What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI page] for more information on these benefit programs.
How can my children receive benefits?
If you qualify for SSDI, your children can also receive benefits on top of your benefits. However, they must meet a few requirements to be eligible:
- Only biological or adopted children and dependent stepchildren can receive SSDI benefits for your disability.
- Children must be unmarried and younger than 18 years old. The only exception is for a child who is still in high school. The child may continue to receive benefits until he or she graduates (or withdraws) or turns 19, whichever comes first.
- Children must have a valid birth certificate and Social Security number to receive benefits. If your child lacks a Social Security number, you must apply for one through Social Security on the child’s behalf before applying for SSDI benefits for the child.
How much SSDI benefits will my children receive?
The amount of benefits your child receives in SSDI depends on your benefit amount and the family limit. The amount you paid into the system before your disability determines your benefits. The more you paid, the higher your benefits. (Learn more about how much Social Security disability pays.)
Your family limit is a function of your benefit amount. Each dependent child is eligible to receive up to 50 percent of your benefit amount. If you have multiple children, though, a good chance exists that each of them will receive less, as SSDI imposes a family limit.
Typically, SSDI caps a family’s total benefits at 150 to 180 percent of the disabled person’s benefit amount. So, if you receive $1,000 per month, the most your children can receive is another $500 to $800 per month.
If your family limit is 150 percent and you have two children, then the remaining 50 percent after you receive your benefits is split among them. Therefore, each child receives 25 percent of your benefit amount.
For how long will my children receive benefits?
Unless your children are also disabled, benefits will end the month before they turn 18. Children still in high school on their 18th birthday will continue to receive benefits until they graduate or leave school. If a child turns 19 before finishing high school, his or her benefits will end two months after turning 19.
If your child becomes disabled before the age of 22, he or she can continue to receive dependent benefits indefinitely.
Can my grandchildren receive SSDI benefits?
In certain situations, your grandchildren or step-grandchildren can receive SSDI benefits based on your benefits. However, there are strict conditions for this to happen:
- The grandchild’s parents are deceased or disabled.
- The grandchild has lived with you at least 12 months (or, if under a year old, his or her entire life).
- You provide at least half the grandchild’s financial support.
Need Help Applying for SSDI for You and Your Children? Call DAG
Social Security disability laws can be complex and confusing, especially for those without familiarity with the qualifying criteria and application process. In fact, many people see their applications for SSDI denied on the first try. Others get approved for less than they deserve, or their children’s benefit amount is lower than it should be.
If you are struggling to get SSDI for you and/or your children, don’t give up. A Social Security Disability Insurance lawyer at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril can help. Contact us today at 865-566-0800 to set up a consultation to go over the details of your claim.