When you start receiving disability benefits, certain members of your family also may qualify for benefits on your record. Benefits may be paid to your:
- divorced spouse;
- disabled child; and/or
- adult child disabled before age 22.
If any of your qualified family members apply for benefits, we will ask for their Social Security numbers and their birth certificates.
If your spouse is applying for benefits, we also may ask for proof of marriage and dates of prior marriages, if applicable.
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 we can pay your family.
The total depends on your benefit amount and the number of family members who also qualify on your record. The total varies, but generally the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your disability benefit.
If the sum of the benefits payable on your account is greater than the family limit, the benefits to the family members will be reduced proportionately. Your benefit will not be affected.
Benefits For Your Spouse
When benefits are payable to your spouse:
- Age 62 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.
At any age if he or she is caring for your child under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits.
Your spouse would receive these benefits until the child reaches age 16. At that time, the child's benefits continue, but your spouse's benefits stop unless he or she is old enough to receive retirement benefits (age 62 or older) or survivor benefits as a widow or widower (age 60).
If Your Spouse Also Worked Under Social Security
If your spouse is eligible for retirement benefits on his or her own record, we will always pay that amount first. But if the spouse benefit that is payable on your record is a higher amount, he or she will get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount.
It doesn't matter if your spouse starts getting benefits before, after, or at the same time you do—we will check both records to make sure that your spouse gets the higher amount whenever he or she becomes entitled to it.
Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse
If you are divorced, even if you have remarried, your ex-spouse may qualify for benefits on your record.
(If your ex-spouse will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, his or her Social Security benefit on your record may be affected.
To qualify on your record, your ex-spouse must:
- have been married to you for at least 10 years;
- be at least 62 years old;
- be unmarried; and
- not be eligible for an equal or higher benefit on his or her own Social Security record, or on someone else's Social Security record.
Benefits For Your Children
When you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child, or stepchild. 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, benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever is first.
Within your family, each qualified child may receive a monthly payment up to one-half of your full disability amount; however, there is a limit to the amount we can pay your family members.
Find out more about Benefits For A Disabled Child.