young african american girlIf I Receive SSDI Can My Children Receive Benefits Too Even if They Are Not Disabled?

If you qualify for Social Security disability benefits your children may also qualify to receive benefits. Of course, as with any program, there are stipulations. We will look at a few of the program requirements and guide you through the application process. One note- we say “may” and “probably” in the article because Social Security is a government program that is susceptible to change and bureaucracy.



Your children who do not have disabilities of their own and are under the age of 18 probably qualify for family benefits. The SSA defines an eligible child as your biological child, adopted child or stepchild. In some instances a dependent grandchild may also qualify to receive benefits.

Benefits stop for eligible children when they turn 18 unless it can be determined that they have their own qualifying disability before age 22 or they get married.

The monthly benefits check can continue past age 18 if the child is enrolled full time in elementary or high school when he or she turns 18. In this case, benefits would stop either two months after the young person turns 19 or when they graduate, whichever comes first.

Is the Money Worth Applying For?

Applying for benefits for your child is definitely worth the couple of hours it takes to apply for it! Each child will receive a lump-sum payment going back to the official time your disability began. Like yours, this payment alone could amount to several thousand dollars for each child. Ongoing monthly checks can be up to half of your awarded monthly amount per child until your family benefit amount is maxed out. This means your children could be earning over $12,000 per year collectively. So yes, taking an hour or so to complete an application is very worth it money-wise.

What is the Family Maximum?

The family maximum amount is the total amount of benefits the Social Security Administration allows for a family unit. Typically this amount is 150% to 180% of the parent’s full benefit amount. Your benefit amount is based on the amount you and your employer paid in Social Security tax so the exact amount varies by person.

What Happens If I Lose My Disability Benefits?

Benefits provided to a non-disabled child are ultimately based on the eligibility of the parent. If your benefits are stopped then the child’s benefits will also stop.

Can I Spend the Money Any Way I Want?

How the child’s disability benefits may be spent is a really good question. The SSA does not stipulate exactly how the money may be spent, but a good rule of thumb is that it should be spent in a way that benefits the child. For instance, you could buy groceries or clothes for the child. However, purchasing jewelry for yourself may get you in trouble legally if the child decides to contest how the money was spent when they get older. This scenario is hypothetical, of course, but something to think about. You can also save the money for the child’s use later in life; think college.

First Things First

You will be unable to apply for benefits for your child until after you have been approved for your own disability benefits. The start date of disability, your exact benefit amount and correlatively your family benefit amount are not set in stone until your own benefits are approved.  If your application went before an Administrative Law Judge the judge can rule differently from your application.

In reality, the best time to apply for family benefits is after you have received your first benefits check. There is no huge hurry to apply as benefits for children are retroactive to your disability date, just as yours were.  

How to Apply

Child benefit applications cannot be completed online or over the phone. You will need to go in person to your closest Social Security office to complete the process. Call 1-800-772-1213 between 7 AM and 7 PM Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment. Any legal guardian can make the trip to the SS office, but they must take the child’s birth certificate and the parent’s and child’s Social Security numbers. It may take about an hour to complete the application process with the Social Security specialist.

In addition, you will need to take checking account and routing numbers with you if you desire the child’s benefits to be direct deposited into a separate checking account other than the one already in use for the parent.

Go Apply

If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits and have one or more dependent children you should look into obtaining benefits for them. The application process is easy and the reward could be great.





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About the Cochran Firm Disability Lawyers
Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.” Article by Benjamin A. Irwin, Esq.

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