If I get disability will my children receive benefits?

The answer to this question depends upon which disability program you are entitled to receive benefits from and your earnings prior to becoming disabled. If you are not insured for Social Security Disability, you may only be entitled to disability benefits from the SSI program, a.k.a. the title 16 Supplemental Security Income disability program. SSI does not pay any kind of dependent benefits. SSI disability benefits are payable to the disabled beneficiary only because SSI disability is a needs based disability program.

Non-disabled children of disabled workers may potentially receive as dependents

If you are eligible for Social Security Disability, your earnings prior to becoming disabled determine if there is any money available on your Social Security record to pay benefits to your dependents. Social Security considers children, stepchildren (stepchildren must meet certain support criteria), and spouses to be dependents of a disabled worker.

The amount payable to children or any other dependents is determined by a formula that involves subtracting what your monthly disability benefit amount is from the family maximum.

The 'family maximum' is the all the money available for payment on your Social Security record. If there is money remaining after you are paid it can be paid to your children or spouse. Disability dependents are eligible to receive a monthly benefit that is equal to fifty percent of your monthly disability benefit amount.

However, if the monetary amount that remains after you are paid your disability benefit does not allow each dependent to be paid an amount equal to half of your disability benefit amount, the remainder will be divided equally among all dependents.

How long will dependent children receive benefits from Social Security?

Social Security pays your children a monthly benefit until they reach the age of 18 if they are not in full time attendance in high school, or age 19 if they are. These benefits will terminate unless your child is determined to be an adult disabled child. Adult disabled children can continue to receive a benefit on your Social Security record until they marry.

The exception to this rule is marriage to another Social Security Disability beneficiary. Your spouse may be eligible to receive mother-in-care or father-in-care benefits on your disability record until the last child is age 16. If Social Security determines your child is eligible for adult child disability benefits, your spouse or divorced spouse may be eligible to resume mother or father-in-care benefits provided the adult disabled child requires significant supervision and care.

If there is no money available on your Social Security Disability record after your monthly disability benefits are paid, there will be no benefits for your children or spouse to receive.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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