Social Security Disability lawyers can help your entire family fight for the benefits you deserve.
For those who seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), many have family members who need support as well. While these programs are primarily meant to assist those with qualifying disabilities, benefits can also sometimes extend to families.
In addition to disabled individuals, those who qualify can include spouses, children including adult disabled children, certain other family members, and survivors, depending on your earnings and other factors.
SSDI and SSI are distinct, separate programs. SSDI is an earned benefit for disabled individuals, based on how long they worked and how much they paid into Social Security taxes. SSI is a means-tested program. To qualify, you must be disabled and earn below a certain income.
How and when dependents and other family members qualify for benefits differs between SSDI and SSI.
Filing for Social Security disability benefits can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to ensuring families receive all the benefits they’re entitled to.
Georgia disability lawyers can help you navigate your claim, so you can receive the support you and your family deserve.
Here’s what you should know about Social Security disability support for families.
Table of Contents:
- What’s the Maximum Benefit Amount My Family Can Earn?
- Do Children and Other Dependents Qualify?
- What Are Survivor Benefits?
- How Social Security Disability Lawyers Help Families
What’s the Maximum Benefit Amount My Family Can Earn?
For those who qualify for SSDI benefits, family members who can receive additional family benefits include a spouse, divorced spouse, minor children, or adult children who are disabled before the age of 22.
For SSI, only disabled people who qualify may receive benefits. However, disabled children may qualify for SSI separately.
Each family member who qualifies may receive up to an additional 50% of your disability benefit amount. In total, a family may receive roughly 150% to 180% of your disability benefit. For divorced spouses who qualify for benefits, this doesn’t count toward your benefits total.
The maximum amount you can receive depends on the benefit amount you qualify for, and how many of your family members also qualify.
Can My Spouse Receive Benefits?
If you are a disabled retired worker, your spouse can qualify under your disability benefits record under one of the following conditions:
- Your spouse is 62 years old or older
- Your spouse is caring for a child under 16 or who was disabled before turning 22.
If your spouse is age 62 or older, they may not qualify under your benefits record if they already collect a higher Social Security benefit amount, depending on their past earnings. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reduces the amount of the benefits your spouse will receive by a percentage, which is based on how many months remain before they reach full retirement age.
Spouses can’t claim multiple benefits, though if they qualify for more than one benefit amount, the SSA will pay the higher amount.
Divorced spouses who were married for at least 10 years, are 62 or older, and who have not remarried may collect benefits from a former spouse. They must also not qualify for a higher amount from their own Social Security record.
The amount a divorced spouse collects has no effect on the amount a current spouse collects.
Do Children and Other Dependents Qualify?
When you qualify for SSDI, your children may receive benefits as well. A biological child, adopted child, stepchild, or dependent grandchild may qualify under your benefits coverage.
To be considered by the SSA, a child must meet the following qualifications:
- Under 18
- Be 18 to 19 as a full-time student, no higher than grade 12
- Be 18 or older and have a disability that started before the age of 22
Children who are full-time students can receive benefits after they turn 18. However, unless they are disabled, these benefits only last until they graduate or two months after they turn 19, whichever comes first.
The SSA will consider grandchildren or step-grandchildren if their parents are deceased or disabled, and you’ve legally adopted them. Qualifying grandchildren must have lived with you for at least 12 months while receiving at least half of their financial support from you.
Single, adult disabled children over 18 may also be eligible to receive benefits if a parent or legal guardian receives SSDI or passes away while insured for Social Security benefits.
Disabled children may qualify for SSI separately.
What Are Survivor Benefits?
Widowers whose spouse was insured for SSDI at the time of their death may qualify for survivor benefits if they were married for at least 9 months before the spouse passed away. If a widow is not disabled, they must be at least 60 years old to qualify. If a widow is disabled, they must be at least 50 years old.
You may also qualify if you are a divorced spouse in certain circumstances. A widow who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or has a disability, and is receiving child’s benefits, may receive survivor benefits at any age.
Others who qualify for survivor benefits include:
- Unmarried children under 18
- Disabled children with a disability that began before the age of 22
- Stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, or adopted children
- Parents who are age 62 or older and dependent on the deceased for at least half their financial support
A one-time death benefit of $255 may also be paid to a surviving spouse if they were living together. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment goes to an eligible child.
How Social Security Disability Lawyers Help Families
Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits can be challenging enough. The process can leave you feeling overwhelmed when factoring in additional benefits for family members. You and your family deserve the best chance at receiving the maximum benefit amount possible.
Social Security Disability lawyers can give you peace of mind by advocating for you, your spouse, and your children. The right Georgia disability lawyers can help guide you through the process and have the experience to fight for the benefits your family deserves.
For SSDI and SSI claims, you typically won’t pay an up-front lawyer's fee. In a vast majority of cases, your lawyer will be paid directly from your initial back pay if you win your case—up to 25% or $6,000, whichever is lower. If you don’t win your claim, you don’t pay.
You can consult an attorney at any time. Whether you’re still getting started filing a claim or you’ve been denied and need to appeal a decision, disability lawyers at Affleck & Gordon can help.
If you or your family are filing a Social Security Disability claim or your claim has been denied, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping disabled people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Once you have applied online for benefits, sign up for a free case evaluation here, and call us at (404) 990-3945.