Qualified dependents of workers receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are also entitled to a benefit amount. SSDI rules limit the amount payable to a family, but understanding the rules can ensure that dependents receive the maximum amount allowable, boosting a family’s total benefit.

A Significant Increase

In 2017, more than 10 million disabled workers and their dependents claimed benefits under the SSDI program. The average SSDI benefit amount was about $1,100 a month. By including eligible dependents, recipients can significantly increase the amounts paid to their family.

Boost Disability Payments to the Maximum

SSDI benefits are based on work history and payments into the Social Security system. However, qualified dependents are not required to work or pay into the system and can receive a benefit equal to 50 percent of the worker’s disability amount. Dependents eligible to receive a benefit include:

  • Married spouse caring for a dependent child
  • Married spouse over age 62 without Social Security retirement income
  • Divorced spouse
  • Dependent minor or disabled children
  • An adult who was disabled before age 22 and who claims benefits as a dependent of the worker
  • A parent who is dependent on the worker’s income

The SSDI rules limit the amount paid to a single family to between 150 and 180 percent of the worker’s disability benefit. This limit is called the Family Maximum Benefit (FMB). Ensuring that all eligible dependents file a claim for their SSDI benefits can significantly boost the amount paid out to families by increasing the benefit payments to the full amount allowed under the FMB rules.

Another rule can increase the family benefit even more. If both spouses receive SSDI or Social Security Retirement, the allowed family benefit increases to an amount called the Combined Family Maximum (CFM). This higher limit allows dependents to receive a larger portion of their benefit, increasing the total paid to the family.

Secure the Highest Disability Benefit

A disabled worker’s SSDI benefits cannot be reduced because a family member applies for dependent, or auxiliary, benefits. Also, even after a claim has been filed and approved, it is not too late to add an eligible dependent and claim their benefit. Ensuring that all of the disabled worker’s qualified dependents receive their benefits under the correct FMB or CFM rules will secure the highest family benefit.