Social Security Disability Benefits for Spouse, Parent, and Child

Trisha Miller  | 

If your parent, spouse, or child is currently receiving social security benefits due to a disability, you may also qualify for additional benefits for yourself and your household. In this guide, we’re going to go over several different scenarios that apply to you if your spouse is disabled, if you have a disabled child, and/or if you are a child with a disabled parent. Before you decide to apply for any of these social security disability benefits, it’s imperative that you understand what could affect your eligibility, what amount of benefits you might be entitled to, and what documents you need to have before you apply.

Social Security Disability: Spousal Benefits

An individual who has collected social security disability benefits for a significant amount of time may be considered to be a “long-term” disability benefit recipient by the government. This person must be a worker, or a retired worker, that has needed assistance for their disability. If this person has a spouse, that partner might also have benefits available to them under certain circumstances.

Eligibility

Newly Married

If you are newly married to an individual that receives social security disability benefits and your spouse is over the age of 62, you may qualify for additional monthly benefits. In order to qualify, you must be married for at least a year when you apply. If your spouse becomes eligible on their own for a noteworthy increase in their monthly benefits, the additional spousal benefit may end.

Spouse Death or Survivor Benefits

Another scenario pertains to individuals who may have lost a spouse that had disabilities. If your spouse has passed away and you were married for at least a year, you might be eligible for benefits. In order to qualify you must be at least 60 years old or between 50 and 60 years old living with your own disability. If you are receiving your own benefits and the amount significantly increases due to other circumstances, your spousal benefit may end.

Divorce

You may also qualify for benefits if you were married to a disabled worker for at least 10 years. If you are 62 or older and you were divorced from a person with disabilities, but were married to them for at least 10 years, you may be entitled to benefits. What’s more, if you divorced from a spouse that was getting benefits and they have since passed away, you may qualify if you are over the age of 60 or you have your own disability and are between the ages of 50 and 60. One key area to note is if you were divorced from the individual with disabilities, but you get remarried before you turn 60, you will not qualify.

Benefit Amounts

Generally, you will receive 50 percent of your spouse’s benefit if they are living. That would be 50 percent of their benefit total, in addition to what they already receive. However, if you are already receiving benefits for your children in regards to their disabled parent, that 50 percent may be lowered.

However, if your spouse has passed away, you may receive between 75 and 100 percent of their benefit total, depending on your age. You can qualify for this if you were married for 10 years and then were divorced (see the divorced section above). If you are receiving any mother’s or father’s benefits from caring for children of a disabled spouse, your total benefit may be lowered. Lastly, if you and your spouse were living in the same house when they passed, you may qualify for a lump sum death benefit.

Applying for Benefits

In order to qualify for these benefits you must contact the Social Security Administration to start the process. In the cases above, you may need to provide a marriage certificate, proof of identification for yourself (often a birth certificate), and possibly a death certificate for your spouse. If you qualify for the benefits, you may need to provide bank routing information to them as well.

Taxability of Benefits

Spousal benefits fall under the “taxable” category. These are funds that are supplementary to your current benefits or other form of income. They are additional benefits, not benefits that you necessarily rely on in order to have your basic needs met. As such, the Social Security Administration will send you a tax sheet at the beginning of every year that has your previous year’s data on it, and you will need to report those earnings on your taxes.

Social Security Benefits for Child of Disabled Parent

Children of disabled parents are often also entitled to social security disability benefits. Many of the circumstances outlined below will be examined as a household, just as many other similar scenarios would. If the family is receiving benefits via another avenue, children’s benefits due to a disabled parent may be lowered or cut off completely.

Eligibility

Child of Disabled Parent

A child under the age of 18 can qualify for benefits due to their disabled parent. This doesn’t only pertain to biological children. A child with a disabled step parent, adoptive parent, or grandparent (if they are the legal guardian) can also qualify for social security disability benefits. The child can continue to receive aid for an additional year if they are a full time college student. The benefits would stop at age 19. The benefits also stop if the child gets married.

Disabled Child With a Disabled Parent

In addition, if a child is disabled and their parent is also disabled, they may be eligible for additional benefits. In this case, as long as their disability was onset before the age of 18, they will be eligible and they can continue to receive benefits into adulthood. If a parent doesn’t start receiving benefits until after they retire or they suddenly become disabled, the child may still be eligible for the additional benefits, given that they are also under the age of 18 or are disabled themselves. This also includes a step parent, adoptive parent, or grandparent (if they are the legal guardian).

Benefit Amounts

Children of disabled parents commonly qualify for 50 percent of their parent’s benefits. That is, 50 percent of the parent’s total benefit, in addition to what they already receive. However, as is the case with most family disability circumstances, the benefit may be lowered if the household is already gaining benefits in other areas. Lastly, the child of a disabled parent who has passed away may be eligible for a lump sum death benefit.

Applying for Benefits

In the case of a child who is under 18, they may need parental assistance applying for their benefits. The Social Security Administration will need proof of identity (usually in the form of a birth certificate) and they will want to confirm relation to the disabled person. If the disabled parent isn’t already receiving social security disability benefits, they may need to see proof of disability and age of onset from a doctor. You may also need all applicable Social Security Numbers. If you qualify, you may need to provide bank routing information.

Taxability of Benefits

If a child is receiving social security benefits due in regards to their own disability, those are not taxable. However, benefits that are considered supplementary or are used in addition to household income are subject to tax. As such, the Social Security Administration will send you a tax sheet at the beginning of every year that has your previous year’s data on it and you will need to report those earnings on your taxes.

Social Security Disability for Disabled Child

Children who are disabled are eligible for certain social security benefits until the age of adulthood. They may also qualify for adulthood benefits if their disability was onset at a young age. If the household is receiving other forms on income, their eligibility may be affected.

Eligibility

Disabled Children in Low Income Situations

If the household of a disabled child is considered low income, that child will likely be eligible for social security benefits. Children in this situation may receive benefits until they reach the age of 18. If their disability was onset before the age of 18 and will continue into adulthood, they can also receive benefits after the age of 18.

Caring for Children of a Disabled Spouse

If you are caring for at least one child of a disabled spouse and the child is under the age of 16, you may qualify for benefits. Your spouse (or ex-spouse) must have recently become disabled or may have passed away in order to receive this benefit. In addition, you may be eligible if your child also has a disability which was onset before the age of 22. However, in this circumstance, you will likely be eligible for a larger social security disability benefit for your adult child that you’re caring for, instead of a mother’s or father’s benefit (due to a disabled spouse or ex-spouse).

Benefit Amounts

If the child is under the age of 18, the parent’s income will be used to determine what amount the household may qualify for. If the household is already receiving benefits in other forms (like the others mentioned in this guide) the total benefit amount may be lowered. If the child is over the age of 18, their own income will be used to determine eligibility. If they have low or no income, they are more likely to gain larger benefits. If the disabled adult gets married, that may affect their eligibility as well.

Applying for Benefits

For children with disabilities, written proof from a doctor stating their disability may be necessary. They will also need to prove their identity (with a birth certificate) and Social Security Numbers. The parent will likely need to provide proof of their income status. This will include pay stubs and totals currently in checking and savings accounts. This will help the Social Security Administration determine how much of a benefit the child qualifies for. If you qualify for benefits, they may ask you for your bank routing information.

Taxability of Benefits

Children with disabilities receive income to help them attain all of their basic needs, such as housing, education, clothing, food, transportation, and more. This source of income is not taxable. Parents who are receiving additional income for their child supplementing their own, will likely be subject to tax. As such, the Social Security Administration will send you a tax sheet at the beginning of every year that has your previous year’s data on it and you will need to report those earnings on your taxes.

ABLE Accounts

If you are a parent of a special needs child who is receiving social security disability benefits, you might be saving for their future. As such, you may have heard of an account called the ABLE account that lets you do just that without being subject to tax. Money deposited into ABLE accounts may be taxed before the funds go in, but will not be taxed when they are withdrawn as long as they are used for expenses that directly relate to a person’s disability.

However, if you choose to add your social security earnings into your ABLE account, the government will see that total as countable income, which could affect your eligibility for social security disability benefits going forward. Although, this only applies if the account holder (the person with disabilities) deposits the money. Separate gifted money or funds deposited by a friend, family member, or parent do not count toward your total income and would not affect your eligibility for social security disability benefits.

As you can see, there are many different social security disability benefit options for families in need. However, I must stress again, that before you apply please make sure that you are eligible and that you have all proper documentation in hand. If you are living with a disabled individual, there’s no reason that you and your loved ones should struggle financially. These social security disability benefits are available for families in need and they should be taken advantage of if the situation applies to you.


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Trisha is a writer and blogger from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan, an avid gamer, cat lover, and amateur SFX artist.

This post was updated March 29, 2018. It was originally published April 2, 2018.