When one or both parents qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, dependent children may qualify to receive SSDI benefits as well. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), approximately 4.3 million children in the United States receive Social Security benefits because one or both parents are either retired, deceased, or disabled.

Child Eligibility for SSDI Auxiliary Benefits

To be eligible to receive monthly benefits for a parent’s disability, a dependent child must be either the biological child, adopted child or stepchild of the disabled parent. In some situations, dependent grandchildren may qualify to receive benefits as well. Additionally, the child must be:

  • Under the age of 18
  • Unmarried
  • Between the ages of 18 and 19 and a full time student in a grade no higher than 12
  • 18 or older and suffer from a disability that began before the age of 22

Maximum SSDI Benefit Per Family

Within each family, the eligible child could receive up to 1/2 of the parent’s full SSDI benefit amount. The total amount that each family is eligible to receive is limited, however. The maximum amount allowed per family depends on the disabled individual’s benefit amount and the number of family members who qualify on that record. In most cases, the maximum benefit payable to each family is between 150 and 180 percent of the disabled individual’s benefit amount. When the total amount that would be payable to all members of the family in more than the allowable amount, each dependent’s benefit will be reduced accordingly. The disabled individual’s benefit will not be reduced. Additionally, if an ex-spouse receives benefits on a disabled individual’s record, that amount is not included in the family maximum.

SSDI Benefits for Grandchildren

Grandchildren and step-grandchildren are sometimes eligible to receive auxiliary benefits as well. To qualify, they must be financially dependent on the disabled grandparent, have lived with the grandparent for 12 months, and both biological parents must either be disabled or deceased.

Filing a Claim for Auxiliary Benefits

Parents or grandparents who are disabled can either file for dependent’s benefits for their children/ grandchildren at the same time they file their own SSDI claim, or they can file a claim for their dependents at a later date. When requesting dependent benefits, the claimant must provide the child’s birth certificate and social security number to the SSA.