What is the difference between the PIA and the Family Max?
The Family Max refers to the maximum monetary amount payable to all members of the number holder's (disability or retirement beneficiary) family, including both the disabled worker and his or her dependents. The PIA, or primary insurance amount, is only payable to the disabled or retired beneficiary.
Some disability or retirement beneficiaries may have nothing left on their record to enable Social Security to pay dependents due to a low earnings record. Consequently, in such situations, the family max may be equal to the PIA amount.
It is important to remember the disabled or retired beneficiary must be paid first, and then any remaining money will be paid to dependents. The amount payable to dependents on the disabled person's record is determined by subtracting the numberholder's PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) from the maximum monetary amount payable to the family (Family Max).
There are rules which govern the maximum amounts payable to dependents, therefore you should contact your local Social Security office to determine what amounts might be payable to dependents.
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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