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There are two different types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The only qualifying factor these two types of benefits have in common is their purpose, to provide monthly payments to qualifying disabled people who cannot work.

While you may be able to receive both, your dependents can only receive benefits if you have been approved for SSDI benefits, not SSI.

Does My Child Qualify for Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will give monthly payments to children of parents who receive SSDI benefits. Many children of low-income parents must work full-time to financially help the family, and as a result, high school is not completed. The money received through a child's benefits is given with the intent to provide more financial security to families so that children can finish high school.

To receive benefits, the child must be:

  • Unmarried;
  • Under 18 years old; or
  • 18-19 years old if still a full-time high school student; or
  • Have a disability that occurred before the age of 22.

Benefits are extended to biological children, adopted children, stepchildren, and grandchildren if they are claimed as a dependent of the person receiving SSDI benefits.

How to File for Child's Benefits

The child’s benefits application can be filed online at the Social Security Administration’s website,

The items you need to file are:

  • Your birth certificate,
  • The child’s birth certificate,
  • Your Social Security number, and
  • The child’s Social Security number.

If you’re applying to receive benefits for a full-time high school student over the age of 18, you’ll also need to provide proof of enrollment in the school.

How Much Money is My Child Eligible to Receive?

Your child can receive up to half of your disability benefit amount. Your amount is calculated based on how much money you have contributed to Social Security during your time of employment. If you have more than one dependent, there is a family household limit of 150% to 180% of your full benefit amount. If the benefits surpass the maximum allotted amount, an equal proportion will be taken from each dependent benefit until the total equals the allowed number.

When Do I Need an Attorney?

The SSA is unlikely to deny a qualifying child of receiving SSDI benefits for a parent’s disability. The SSA reports that in 2017, they gave $2.6 billion in benefits each month to 4.2 million children (most recent data published). But, if you are going through the SSDI process for yourself without an attorney, you are more likely to, (1) be denied, (2) not know that your dependents can also receive benefits and not apply for them, creating a stronger financial strain on your family.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.