Can my spouse and children get benefits if I am approved for Social Security disability?
Learn about dependent benefits for your spouse and children if you get Social Security Disability and learn how the law decides who is your dependent.
The Family Maximum Payable
If you are approved for Social Security Disability on your own earnings record, your spouse and children may be able to receive benefits. Your earnings record has a maximum amount payable to your family, including you. This is called a Family Maximum. Family Maximums can range in amount from being equal to your benefit, with nothing payable to the family, to being one and a half times your benefit. Depending on the amount of your Family Maximum, any percentage of your benefit from zero to fifty percent may be payable to your family. The Social Security Administration can check their records to tell you the amount of your Family Maximum and how much, if any, is payable to your family.
Examples of Family Maximum Payments
If you have a low Social Security benefit, such as $300, your Family Maximum will be $300 and all of it will be paid to you with none left to pay your dependents. If you have a fairly high benefit, such as $1,800, then your family maximum might be $2,700, which is one-and-a-half times your benefit. In this example, the primary benefit of $1,800 would be paid to you and the remaining $900 of the Family Maximum would be split among your eligible dependents. For information regarding how your primary benefit is calculated, please see our article If I Am Approved for Disability, How Much Will My Social Security Disability Benefit Be?
Eligible Child Defined
Now that you know a little bit about benefits that could be paid to your family, here’s some information about how Social Security law defines eligible dependents. First, your children may be eligible. Social Security defines a “child” as your natural child, adopted child, dependent stepchild, and in some cases dependent grandchild. You child must be under age eighteen, age nineteen and a full-time student in a high school or elementary school, or a disabled adult child over age eighteen who became disabled before age twenty-two. Your child must also be unmarried, with some exceptions for disabled adult children.
Dependent Benefits for Your Spouse
Your potentially eligible dependents also include your spouse age sixty-two or older or your spouse under age sixty-two who is caring for your child who is under age sixteen. If you are divorced, your divorced spouse may also qualify for benefits if you were married for ten years or more and have been divorced for two years. Your divorced spouse’s benefit will be paid outside the Family Maximum and will not affect the amount paid to you or your other dependents.
Marriage after Disability
If you get married after the date that Social Security determines your disability began, your spouse and your spouse’s children, if any, may become eligible for dependents benefits after you have been married for one year.