Important Family Benefits for Disabled Workers

One of the most important aspects of Social Security Disability is the benefits paid to family members.
A family member is eligible for a monthly benefit that is up to 50 percent of the worker’s disability payment. Each family member may be eligible for a monthly benefit of up to 50 percent of the disability rate. However, there is a limit to the amount we can pay your family.

The total depends on your benefit amount and the number of family members who also qualify on your record. The total varies, but generally the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your disability benefit.

Workers receive Social Security retirement and disability benefits based on their covered earnings. Members of their families may also qualify for benefits based on those earnings—for example, their survivors, spouses, and children. Benefits for family members have always been limited by the family maximum rules. In 1980, Congress established more restrictive rules for the families of disabled workers, reflecting concerns that some disability beneficiaries were financially as well off, or better off, when receiving benefits than they were when working. The family maximum rules have evolved over time and have become more complicated for all beneficiaries, which in some cases make them difficult to implement. If not implemented correctly, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may pay beneficiaries improperly.

Furthermore, benefits will be payable to a spouse of any age who cares for a worker’s child under the age of 16, or to a spouse who is disabled and receiving disability benefits. The spouse would receive benefits until the child reaches the age of 16. When the child reaches age 16 benefits continue, but the spouse’s benefits will stop. These are often times called “mother’s benefits” although they are paid to both mothers and fathers.

Who is an eligible child?

An eligible child can be a biological, adopted or a stepchild. A grandchild who is dependent on a grandparent is also eligible. There are some complicated rules for a child of common law marriages and illegitimate children, eligibility here may depend on state laws.