Securing additional benefits for dependents

People who live with disabling conditions often face significant financial hardship, due to wage loss and unavoidable medical expenses. When these individuals also support children, they may struggle to make ends meet. Fortunately, as any attorney Social Security can explain, assistance may be available to people who qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration makes special benefits available to children and other dependents of SSD beneficiaries.

Eligible children

The biological children, stepchildren and adopted children of beneficiaries may all qualify to receive dependent benefits. The SSA can award benefits if a child is unmarried and meets one of the following criteria:

  • The child is less than 18 years old.
  • The child is less than 19 years old and attends secondary school as a full-time student.
  • The child suffers from a disability that began before the age of 22.

Dependent benefits may even be available to the grandchildren of beneficiaries. However, the grandparents usually must provide a home and substantial financial support to the grandchildren. Additionally, the grandchildren’s biological parents must be disabled or deceased, or the grandparents must have legally adopted the grandchildren.

Benefit amounts and duration

A beneficiary’s child may receive up to half of the benefit amount that the beneficiary collects. However, as any attorney Social Security knows, the benefit a child receives may be limited because of the family benefit cap. The SSA generally does not allow families to receive more than 150 to 180 percent of the original benefit amount. If a beneficiary has multiple children, the benefit each child receives is adjusted downward to accommodate this limit.

Children may receive dependent benefits as long as they meet eligibility criteria and their parents qualify for SSD benefits. Dependent benefits continue even if a parent’s benefits are suspended due to the parent’s incarceration. If a parent passes away, dependent children may collect survivors benefits until they no longer meet age-related criteria.

Seeking benefits

SSD beneficiaries must request dependent benefits for their children from the SSA. When pursuing these benefits, parents may need to supply documentation to prove their children are eligible for benefits. For instance, parents might have to show enrollment records to prove an 18-year old child is in secondary school.

Parents requesting benefits for disabled children over age 18 must provide evidence of the disabling condition. A disabled adult child must meet the same medical criteria that other adults must meet to receive direct SSD benefits. Therefore, as an attorney Social Security understands, parents must provide extensive documentation to support the child’s claim for benefits.