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Social Security Family Benefits Help Ease Financial Strain on Pennsylvania Disabled Workers

Family members of a disabled worker who is eligible for Social Security disability benefits may themselves be eligible for family benefits. These benefits are paid to certain family members who demonstrate a financial dependence on a disabled worker.  Family benefits apply to disabled workers collecting Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) but not Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The definition of disability under Social Security differs from other programs because benefits are payable for total disability, meaning that a worker is unable to work. This means they cannot perform work they did before, they cannot adjust to other work due to a medical condition, and this disability is expected to last at least one year.

Each member of the family who is eligible for a monthly Social Security benefit may receive up to 50% of the monthly disability benefit paid to the disabled worker. Factors that affect the amount paid to each family member include whether the member is a minor child, a disabled adult child, a retirement-aged spouse, or a young parent caring for disabled children.

There is a limit to the total amount of money that can be paid to a family on one Social Security record. The total amount, called the Maximum Family Benefit, depends on the benefits amount paid to the disabled worker and the number of family members who also qualify on the same record. Generally, the total amount that a family can receive is approximately 150% to 180% of the primary worker’s disability benefit.

For spouses, those 62 and older may receive benefits, unless their own earnings record allows them to collect a larger amount.  For spouses caring for a disabled worker’s child under age 16, family benefits are payable until the child reaches age 16. The benefits for the child would continue, but the spousal benefits would terminate at that time.

Children eligible for benefits include biological children, as well as adopted children and stepchildren. Dependent grandchildren may also qualify for benefits   Children must be unmarried and under 18, or a full-time student and 18-19 years old. If they are 18 or older, and they have a disability that began before age 22, they may qualify for Social Security benefits on their disabled parent’s record.   An example might be a worker who collects Social Security benefits at age 62 and has a 38-year-old son who was born with cerebral palsy. The son can collect benefits as a disabled “child” on his father’s Social Security record.

For spouses age 62 and older, benefits are payable unless that person already collects a higher benefit according to his or her earnings record. In the situation that a spouse is eligible for retirement benefits on their own record, that amount will be paid by the Social Security Administration first.

At Needle Law Firm, we can help you understand family benefits under Social Security law. Our Pennsylvania Social Security lawyers can ensure that you pursue all of the benefits you deserve.  If you or a family member needs assistance with a disability claim, call our office today at 570-344-1266.

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