If the Social Security Administration determines that you are disabled and eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, your spouse and children may be eligible for benefits as well. Benefits paid to a disabled person’s family members are called auxiliary benefits, and eligibility for these benefits depends on several factors. The three main are:
Eligibility Generally: Under the law, your eligible family members can only receive auxiliary benefits if you are receiving SSDI benefits. The amount of the auxiliary benefits your family members receive will be based on your wages and contributions to the Social Security fund while you were still working. Your family members will not be eligible for auxiliary benefits if you are not eligible for SSDI and receive only Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You can your dependents to your claim when you initially apply for disability benefits or after you are awarded benefits.
Spouse Eligibility: To be receive for auxiliary benefits, your spouse and children must meet certain additional eligibility criteria. Generally, your spouse will be eligible for auxiliary benefits if (1) he or she is 62 or older, or (2) he or she is caring for your child who is under the age of 16 or disabled. If 62 or older, your spouse will be eligible for auxiliary benefits unless he or she collects a higher Social Security benefit based on his or her own earnings record. If caring for your child(ren) under the age of 16, your spouse would stop receiving auxiliary benefits once the youngest child reached the age of 16, unless your spouse was 62 or older or entitled to survivor benefits as a widow or widower. In some cases, an ex-spouse may also qualify benefits.
Child Eligibility: Your biological children, adopted children, and step-children will also be eligible for auxiliary benefits if they are unmarried and are: (1) under the age of 18; (2) 18 or 19 years old and a full-time high school student; or (3) 18 or older and have a disability that started before age 22. A child for whom you are required to pay child support is eligible for auxiliary benefits, even if he or she does not live with you.