SSDI Benefits: How to Determine a Child’s Eligibility

SSDI Benefits: How to Determine a Child’s Eligibility

If one or more parents in a household are disabled and qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, some or all children of the household may qualify as well. If the children qualify, they can receive cash benefits until they are 18 years of age.

How Can a Child Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The qualifying parent must have earned sufficient Social Security Disability Insurance credits during their working years in order for their children—or “auxiliary beneficiaries”—to qualify for auxiliary benefits. Additionally, the child of the disabled individual must be related in one of the following ways:

  • Biological child
  • Adopted child
  • Stepchild (with no living parents)
  • Grandchild (with no living parents)
  • Step-grandchild (with no living parents)

A child does not have to be born during wedlock to qualify for SSDI benefits. However, paternity must be established in order for any child, of any relation, to qualify for auxiliary benefits. Furthermore, the child must be fully dependent on the disabled individual. Should the child marry before the age of 18, their benefits will stop, as marriage means they are no longer dependent on the disabled individual.

If a parent or grandparent should die before the auxiliary beneficiary reaches the age of 18, the beneficiary will continue to receive SSDI benefits until the age of 18, as originally planned.

How Much Can a Child Earn Through Auxiliary Benefits?

An auxiliary beneficiary typically receives up to 50 percent of the wage earner’s benefits. However, there is a family maximum for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, which is typically 85 percent of the disabled individual’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). If an auxiliary beneficiary’s benefits put a family over the maximum amount, each auxiliary beneficiary’s earnings will be lowered until the family’s total is equal to that of the family maximum.

So, for instance, if a South Carolina disabled veteran had an AIME of $2,400, their family maximum would be $2,040 ($2,400 x 80%). Now, let us say that the disabled veteran has five minor children, all dependents. The disabled veteran receives the average amount of SSDI benefits each month, which is $1,166. Their children should receive $583 a piece each month ($1,166 x 50%), but that would put the family’s benefits over the family maximum by the time the second child’s benefits were calculated into the equation. In order to meet the family maximum, each auxiliary beneficiary’s benefits would have to be reduced to $174 each month, which would bring the family’s total monthly SSDI benefits amount to $2,036, just under the family maximum.

How to File for SSDI Auxiliary Benefits

You can file for your dependents’ benefits at the same time that you file for your own SSDI benefits. You also have the option of filing separately, as an individual’s circumstances change throughout the years. The Social Security Administration (SSA) handles all Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, so you will want to file with them. If you hope to add auxiliary beneficiaries, you will need to provide each dependent’s birth certificate, each disabled individuals’ social security numbers, and your bank routing information.

Consult a South Carolina SSDI Benefits Attorney

If you need help with the initial filing or if you have been denied auxiliary benefits, our South Carolina Disability Insurance attorneys can work with you to help you access the benefits you and your family need to live a comfortable lifestyle. Contact Klok Law Firm LLC to schedule a free and private consultation with one of our disability attorneys today.