If you qualify for disability benefits through Social Security, there may be some instances where other family members may qualify for benefits as well. These benefit payments, called auxiliary benefits, are monthly payments made to your qualifying spouse or children that are based on your earnings record.
Whether your family members qualify for benefits depends on the type of disability benefits you receive and their relationship to you. Auxiliary benefits are only available for families of recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), not Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Additionally, how much your family receives in auxiliary benefits depends on how much you paid in taxes to Social Security while you were working. Even if you qualify for SSDI benefits, there are additional criteria your family members must meet to be eligible for auxiliary benefits.
If your spouse wants to qualify for auxiliary benefits, he or she must be under age 62 and be the joint caregiver of any children under age 16 that you have together. If you get divorced, your spouse may still be eligible for payments if you were married at least ten years before the divorce.
In order for your children to qualify for auxiliary benefits on your record, they must be unmarried, under age 18, and enrolled in school full-time. You can add spouses and children to your disability claim at the time of application or at any point after that.
Grandchildren or step-grandchildren might qualify for benefits on an eligible grandparent’s earnings record if the child’s parents are deceased or disabled, and he or she began living with the grandparent before turning 18 years old. The child must also have received at least half of his or her financial support from the grandparent in the year before the grandparent became eligible to receive SSDI benefits.
Parents may also qualify for auxiliary benefits on a deceased worker’s record if they were dependent on the deceased child for at least half their financial support, are at least 62 years old, have not remarried since their child died, and are not entitled to their own, high Social Security benefits.
If multiple family members are eligible for auxiliary benefits, Social Security will only pay between 150% and 180% of your benefits for the entire family; therefore, if the total amount your family members qualify for exceeds that percentage, Social Security will reduce benefits equally among all eligible spouses and children.