SSDI and Family Benefits

Social_Security_CardsIf you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, it is often true that your family members are also eligible to receive benefits. These family members must be considered dependent on your income, and must each meet specific criteria.

Before family members can be awarded benefits, they must legally prove their relation to you. The Social Security Administration will request their Social Security cards and birth certificates. If your spouse qualifies for your disability benefits, they will also be asked for proof of marriage.

According to, each family member of a disabled individual may be eligible for up to 50 percent of the individual’s disabled rate. If there are several family members wishing to receive benefits, however, the amount of money awarded is capped at roughly 150 percent to 180 percent of the disabled individual’s benefits. If a disabled father wishes for his wife and four children to receive benefits as well, they will not each be awarded 50 percent of the father’s disabled rate; rather, the total amount of money given to each family member will total around 150 percent instead of 250 percent (50 percent times 5 family members).

Family members who qualify

According to, in order to qualify for disability benefits as the family member of a disabled worker, you must meet the following qualifications:


According to, in order to qualify for disability benefits as the spouse of a disabled worker, you must meet one of the following qualifications:

  • You are age 62 or older, or
  • You are any age, and you are caring for a child who is either younger than 16 years old or who is disabled and receiving Social Security benefits


  • You are divorced from the disabled worker, and the two of you were married for at least ten years
  • You are not currently married
  • You are 62 or older
  • Your ex-spouse is eligible for SSDI benefits
  • Your benefits that you have qualified for based on your work history are less than the dependent benefit


  • You are a biological child, adopted child, or dependent stepchild of the disabled individual
  • You are unmarried
  • You are younger than 18 years old

Adult Children

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You are a full-time student at a secondary school and are under 19 years old—this school must not be a college and must provide education only up until grade 12
  • You are yourself disabled, and the onset of this disability occurred before you turned 22


  • Your parents are deceased or disabled
  • You began living with your grandparent (the disabled individual) before you turned 18
  • You received at least half of your support from the grandparent in the year before the grandparent became eligible for SSDI benefits
  • If you (the grandchild) are under 12 months old, you must have lived with the grandparent and received at least half of your support from the grandparent since birth


  • You are the parent of an insured worker who has died
  • You were dependent on this child for at least half of your support
  • You are at least 62 years old
  • You have not remarried since the death of your child
  • Your are not entitled to your own, higher-valued Social Security benefit
  • You were receiving half or more of your support from your child at the time of their death

Under special circumstances, disability benefits can be awarded to family members who do not meet this exact criteria. For more information about SSDI and family members, visit disability and

Photo Courtesy of David Goehring and Creative Commons.