Since many New Jersey residents see the Social Security disability process as time-consuming and difficult, they will often be happy to receive an approval and get their benefits without looking too deeply into the other possible benefits they and their family might be eligible for. This is a mistake. Not only is the individual allowed to get SSD benefits, but it is also possible that certain family members may also be able to get benefits based on the person's record. Knowing who is eligible and the rules regarding family benefits is key before taking the steps to get them.
The following are eligible to receive benefits if a family member is getting SSD benefits: the spouse, a divorced spouse, children, a disabled child, and an adult disabled child who became disabled before the age of 22. When the family members apply for benefits with the Social Security Administration, they will be asked to provide personal information, such as a birth certificate and a Social Security number. For a spouse, there will likely be a request for proof of marriage and if there were prior marriages.
Families will also want to know how much they are eligible to receive. Each family member might get as much as half what the disabled person's disability rate is. That amount is subject to a limitation. The amount will hinge on how much the disabled person gets and how many family members can get benefits. There is no set total, but, in general, the amount that the disabled person and the family can get is approximately 150 to 180 percent of the disabled person's benefit. There will be a proportional reduction if the total goes beyond the limit. The disabled person's benefits are not changed by these factors. Only the amount the family members can get will be adjusted.
Once a person is approved for SSD benefits, it is wise to understand all the other benefits and who in the person's family might be eligible to receive benefits as well. A lawyer who has experience in helping clients maximize their Social Security disability benefits and understands how to extend it to eligible family members is valuable to a case and should be contacted from the start of the benefits process.
Source: ssa.gov, "Disability Planner: Family Benefits," accessed on Jan. 16, 2018