Social Security

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) does much more than pay retirement benefits to eligible workers. For example, SSA pays disability insurance benefits to eligible workers who cannot work due to an illness or injury and auxiliary benefits to the minor children of these disabled workers.

You and your loved ones may be eligible for these lesser known benefits.

Social Security Disability (“SSD”) Benefits

You are disabled (and eligible for SSD) if you are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment which has lasted, or can be expected to last, for 12 months. Your impairments must prevent you from performing your usual work AND other work considering your age, education and work experience

To be eligible for SSD, you also must have paid into the Social Security system for at least five out of the ten years before your disability began. During this period, you and your employer must have paid required Social Security taxes.

The amount of your SSD benefit depends on how much you and your employer have paid in Social Security taxes. You can get an estimate of your SSD benefit online at: http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement

Auxiliary Benefits

Minor children may be eligible for an auxiliary benefit if you collect SSD. A biological or adopted child 18 years old or younger (or who is 19 years old AND still in high school) ordinarily is eligible for an auxiliary benefit.

The auxiliary benefit usually is 50% of the amount of the SSD benefit and the aggregate paid to all eligible minor children. To illustrate, one eligible minor child collects 50% of the SSD benefit; two eligible minor children collect half of the auxiliary benefit so that the total amount paid to them does not exceed 50% of the SSD benefit.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) Benefits

SSI benefits are payable to adults and children who are disabled (using the same criteria used for SSD) AND who have very limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to individuals who are 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial rules.

A person can be eligible for SSI benefits without ever working and paying Social Security taxes. The amount of the SSI benefit depends on the recipient’s living situation (people living alone collect less than people who live as part of a family) and contribution from the federal and state governments.

Disabled Adult Child (“DAC”) Benefits

An unmarried adult who becomes disabled before age 22 may qualify for DAC benefits based on the work and earnings record of their biological or adopted parent. To be eligible, at least one of the parents must be deceased or be collecting SSD or Social Security retirement benefits.

The amount of the DAC benefit is based on the work and earnings record of the salient parent.

Spousal Benefits

Someone age 62 or older who has never worked and paid Social Security taxes may qualify for a Social Security benefit (regardless of health) based on the work and earnings record of a current or former spouse. Further (and regardless of age), a person may collect spousal benefits if they are caring for a child who is collecting Social Security benefits.

The amount of the spousal benefit depends on when the person begins to collect and the work and earnings record of the “wage earning” spouse. A person who waits to collect the spousal benefit until their full Social Security retirement age (which depends on the year they were born) may collect up to one half of the full Social Security retirement benefit of the wage-earning spouse.

Survivor Benefits

A widow or widower–and some surviving divorced spouses (if the marriage lasted at least 10 years)–may collect a reduced survivor benefit as early as age 60 or a full survivor benefit at their full Social Security retirement age. They also may collect a survivor benefit as early as age 50 if they are disabled and their disability started before or within seven years of the death of their spouse.

An unmarried biological or adopted child who is 18 years old or younger (or who is 19 years old AND still in high school) can collect survivor benefits. The amount of the survivor benefit for an eligible child is 75% of the benefit of the deceased worker.

Dependent parents who are 62 or older may be eligible for survivor benefits if the deceased worker provided at least half of their support. The survivor benefit for one parent is 82.5% of the benefit of the deceased worker. If two parents survive, each parent is entitled to a survivor benefit equal to 75% of the benefit of the deceased worker.