If you have recently been approved for Title II Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, there may be an additional benefit available for your family. This isn’t only for biological children or children who live with you–you may also be able to obtain benefits for an adopted child, a step-child or a grandchild. These additional benefits are called “auxiliary” benefits and are based on your wage earning record. There is a total maximum benefit your family can receive, which is called your “family maximum.” For example, this means if a person on SSD is receiving $2000 a month in a monthly SSD benefit, there may be another thousand dollars each month to be allocated between their minor child(ren) and/or a spouse caring for children under 16.
It is important to note that if you happen to have a low monthly benefit amount (also called primary insurance amount, or PIA), there may not be any Auxiliary benefits available to your family. In that case, the Social Security Administration will calculate your family maximum benefit to be the same amount as your individual monthly benefit.
This publication by the Social Security Administration lists the things you may need to provide to apply for Auxiliary benefits, but here are the key things I share with my clients:
- Wait to apply until you have a document called a Notice of Award. This letter spells out how much the government owes you, both in back pay and in monthly benefits moving forward.
- Once you have your Notice of Award, call the government’s national phone number (800) 772-1213, or visit your local field office and request an application for Auxiliary benefits. Be aware that hold times on the national phone line can be very long, in excess of an hour at times. Wait times in local offices can also be painfully long.
- Be prepared to provide proof of birth, such as an original birth certificate.
- You will also want to review this list of questions that the government may ask you about your child.
- When you get a Notice of Award for your child, be sure to compare it to your own Notice of Award. Did the government issue a payment for your minor child in each month that you were entitled to payment?