When you become eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your family members, including your spouse and dependent children, may be eligible to receive auxiliary benefits as well. SSDI is the only SSA program that provides for auxiliary benefits. Dependents of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients are not entitled to auxiliary benefits.
The amount of the auxiliary benefits your dependents may receive is directly related to the amount you are entitled to receive based on taxes you formerly paid into the SSA while employed.
Although applying for Social Security Disability benefits for your spouse or child is similar to the process of applying for yourself, there are additional, specific criteria to be met. To receive auxiliary benefits, your spouse must be under age 62 and be the joint caregiver of your children under age 16. If your spouse divorces you, he or she may still qualify to draw auxiliary benefits from your SSDI if you have been married for at least ten years.
For children to qualify for auxiliary benefits, they must be:
- A dependent
- Under age 18, unless enrolled in school full time
Dependent children who are legally adopted are also eligible, as are dependents who do not live with you; for instance, children for whom you are required to provide child support. Additionally, a disabled adult is considered dependent if they became disabled before the age of 22.
There are many specific exceptions to these guidelines. If you are curious about your spouse or child's eligibility, do not be afraid to ask questions. Keep in mind that auxiliary benefits are designed to provide only for your dependents. If at any time members of your household cease to become dependents by reaching the age limits that apply, or by a status change such as divorce or marriage, they will no longer be able to receive the auxiliary benefits from your SSDI benefits.