If one or both parents in a family qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, then their dependent children who meet certain criteria may also be eligible for benefits. Specifically, if you are a parent who receives Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) because of a disability that prevents you from working, your minor child can also receive a monthly cash benefit until the child turns 18.
When a child collects benefits based on the Social Security record of a disabled parent (that is, a parent who is disabled and who has earned sufficient credits based on his or her past earnings record to qualify for SSDI), the benefits are known as auxiliary benefits, and the child is known as an “auxiliary beneficiary.” (Note that children of parents who collect SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are not entitled to auxiliary benefits. See our article on the difference between SSI and SSDI.) Here are the details.
Dependent Child’s Eligibility for Auxiliary Benefit
To be eligible for auxiliary benefits, the dependent child can be related to the disabled person receiving SSDI in any of the following ways:
- biological child
- adopted child
- grandchild (if there is no living parent), or
- stepgrandchild (if there is no living parent).
Children born during a marriage and those born out of wedlock are both eligible for benefits; however, paternity must be established in the disabled parent in order for a child born out of wedlock to qualify for benefits.
The child must be a financial dependent of the parent (or grandparent).
The child can receive these auxiliary benefits until turning 18, or if the child is a full-time secondary school student, he or she can receive benefits until turning 19. If a child marries before turning 18, however, the auxiliary benefits will stop.
A dependent minor child whose parent died while receiving SSDI disability benefits (or whose parent had earned enough Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits before dying) is eligible for a survivor benefit.
A minor dependent child can receive an auxiliary or survivor benefit based on the record of a disabled parent whether or not the child is disabled. However, children who became disabled prior to the age of twenty-two are eligible to continue to draw SSDI benefits based on their parent’s earnings record. For more information, see our article on Filing for Benefits for a Disabled Adult Child.
Filing a Benefits Claim for Children of Disabled Parents
You can file for auxiliary benefits for your child at the same time that you file for disability benefits for yourself, or you can do so separately. If your disability claim has already been approved, call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at (800)772-1213 to set up an appointment to get the child’s insurance benefit.
In order to apply for Social Security disability benefits for children of disabled parents, you must fill out an application at your local SSA office. An SSA official will provide you with some assistance in applying and answer any questions you might have. You must provide the SSA with your child’s birth certificate, both the disabled parent’s and the child’s Social Security numbers, and your bank’s routing information for direct deposit. If you are applying for survivors benefits, you will also need to provide proof of the parent’s death; for example, by bringing a death certificate.