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Family Benefits

When you begin receiving Social Security disability benefits, certain members of your family may also qualify for benefits based on your earnings record. They include:

If any of your qualified family members apply for benefits, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration with their Social Security number and their birth certificate.

If it is your spouse that is applying for benefits, the Social Security Administration also may ask for proof of marriage, and dates of prior marriages, if applicable.

Spousal Benefits

If you are married, your spouse may be eligible to receive benefits on your earnings record. For your spouse to be eligible he or she:

  • Must be 62 years old 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 up to his or her full retirement age.
  • Can be any age if he or she is caring for your child under age 16 or is disabled and receiving Social Security benefits. Your spouse would receive these benefits until the child reaches age 16. At that time, your child continues to receive child benefits, but your spouse's benefits stop unless he or she is old enough to receive retirement benefits (age 62 or older).

If your spouse is eligible for retirement benefits on his or her own record, the Social Security Administration always pays that amount first. However, if your spouse’s benefit is higher under your earnings record, he or she will get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount.

If your current spouse receives a pension from a government job in which he or she did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of his or her Social Security spouse's benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO. The GPO will lower the amount of his or her Social Security spouse's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of the government pension.

Child Benefits

If you have a child, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits on your earnings record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child or stepchild. In certain cases, a dependent grandchild may also qualify.

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

  • 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.

*Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, he or she will still receive benefits until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever comes first.

What is the maximum amount of benefits a family member can receive?

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 your family can receive.

The total a family member can receive depends on (1) your benefit amount and (2) the number of family members who also qualify on your record. According to the Social Security Administration, the total can vary, but generally the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your disability benefit.

It is important for you to know that if you have an ex-spouse who qualifies for benefits on your record, it will not affect the amount of benefits you or your family may receive. To learn more about the social security disability process, contact us today.