Being unable to support your family may be something you don’t like to think about, but there are options available if it happens. Your child may be able to draw off your Social Security if you become disabled. If your child is the one who is disabled but you have a low income, he may be eligible to get Supplemental Security Income benefits. Your child may also get Social Security benefits because his other parent died.
If you or the other parent become disabled but have worked long enough to pay into Social Security, your child may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits based on your earnings record. For your child to get benefits, you must be her biological parent or she must be a child you adopted or your stepchild you claim as a dependent.
If your child has a physical or mental condition that severely limits his everyday activities, he may qualify for Supplemental Security Income. Your income and resources along with your child’s income and the incomes of any other family members living in the household can’t be more than what Social Security allows. Otherwise, your child won’t qualify for monthly SSI payments. Income limits vary depending on your household income, what income the Social Security Administration counts and if your state offers a state supplement.
If your child qualifies for child’s benefits under SSDI, she can get benefit payments up to one-half of your disability benefit. Social Security sets a limit on how much money it will pay to your family, but the monthly payment can fall between 150 and 180 percent of your full benefit amount. If the total benefit your family receives is more than the maximum benefit Social Security allows, your own benefit amount won’t change but your child’s monthly payments will be reduced. In a case where your disabled child gets SSI, the amount of the payments depends on where you live as some states add to the federal SSI payments. Even so, the amount your child gets is based on your family’s income.
The Social Security Administration will review your disabled child's condition from time to time to determine if he’s still disabled and eligible for SSI payments. Whenever Social Security reviews your child’s case, you must show proof that he has been receiving medically necessary treatment for his condition. Usually, Social Security reviews a child’s case every three years, especially if the child’s condition is expected to improve. Even if your child’s condition is not going to get any better, Social Security may do periodic reviews.
If you and your child get Social Security benefits because the other parent died, your survivors’ benefits will stop once your child turns 16 unless she’s disabled and remains in your care. In that case, you must show that your child's physical or mental impairment keeps her from taking care of herself. If your child is receiving benefits because you or the other parent is disabled, she’ll no longer receive payments after her 18th birthday unless she’s still attending elementary or secondary school full-time. You must get a school official to certify that she is attending school; her payments will stop when she graduates or two months after she turns 19 -- whichever comes first.
Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.