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Can family members of a disabled worker get SSDI benefits?

Readers may know that disabled workers who meet certain requirements may qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits, but assistance may also be available to family members of disabled workers. 

Specifically, SSDI benefits may also be available to the spouses of disabled workers. Spouses who are at least 62 years old are potentially eligible. In fact, even divorced spouses in that same age group who were married for at least 10 years may also qualify for SSDI benefits, unless they could receive a higher level of personal Social Security benefits. In addition, spouses of any age who are caring for a child under the age of 16 may also be able to receive SSDI payments.

Minor children of disabled workers might also be able to receive SSDI payments. Certain categories of children over 18 years of age may also qualify, such as full-time high school students until they reach 20 years of age. Disabled children whose condition manifested before age 22 may also be able to receive SSDI benefits.

For both qualifying spouses and children, however, the benefits are capped at 50 percent of the primary beneficiary’s SSDI payments. Per family, benefits cannot exceed between 150 and 180 percent of the disabled worker’s benefit amount. However, divorced spousal benefits are not included in that family limitation.

Notably, even the primary SSDI recipient may also be able to obtain additional benefits. After receiving SSDI payments for two years, the SSDI recipient typically becomes automatically eligible for Medicare Parts A and B (hospital insurance), premium-free.

Source:  Heritage Foundation, “What Is Social Security Disability Insurance? An SSDI Primer,” Romina Boccia, Feb. 19, 2015

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