Family members of SSD beneficiaries may also be eligible for benefits

The spouses, ex-spouses and children of people who receive Social Security Disability benefits may qualify to receive their own SSD benefits.

Living with a disability can be a significant financial burden. This is especially true for people in St. Louis who struggle with disabling medical conditions while also trying to support their families. Fortunately, Social Security Disability Insurance doesn't only provide benefits for qualifying disabled recipients. The dependent family members of SSD beneficiaries may also be eligible to receive benefits.

Spousal benefits

People who are married to SSD beneficiaries may be able to collect spouse's benefits. These spouses must not qualify for greater benefits based on their own earnings records. Generally, spouse's benefits are only available to people who are at least 62 years old. However, a spouse who cares for a disabled person's child may receive benefits if the child is younger than 16 years old.

The ex-spouses of SSD beneficiaries may also be eligible to receive benefits, provided that they meet several criteria. An ex-spouse must be unmarried and more than 62 years old. The ex-spouse's marriage to the beneficiary must have lasted at least one decade. The ex-spouse also cannot be entitled to receive a larger benefit based on another person's earnings record.

Benefits for children

Dependent benefits may be available to the unmarried children of SSD beneficiaries. Children who are younger than age 18 may qualify for these benefits. Children who are enrolled in secondary school at age 18 or 19 may also be able to collect dependent benefits. Children who do not meet these criteria might still be eligible for benefits if they suffer from disabling conditions themselves.

Adult children who developed disabling conditions before the age of 22 may qualify for a special type of benefit. This benefit is awarded based on the earnings record of the parent who receives SSD benefits (or who is deceased), and it is available regardless of the adult child's age. However, the child must meet the criteria Social Security uses to evaluate disability in adults, which are as follows:

  • The adult child must suffer from a disabling condition that is anticipated to last more than 12 months.
  • This condition must prevent the child from performing any work that he or she did in the past.
  • The condition must preclude the child from adjusting to any new type of gainful employment.
  • The child must never have married.

To secure benefits, an adult child or their representative must provide thorough documentation that proves these criteria are met. If Social Security determines that an adult child is disabled, the child may receive benefits as long as he or she continues meeting these standards.

In light of Social Security's strict standards, disabled people or adult children who are claiming benefits may benefit from seeking legal assistance. An attorney may be able to help a person understand Social Security's criteria and prepare a stronger claim. An attorney may also be able to assist a person in identifying and pursuing any dependent benefits that are available.

Keywords: Social Security, disability, benefits