The parents of a disabled worker who was receiving SSDI are eligible for benefits when their child dies, if their child was supporting them. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is a federal disability program that pays cash benefits to disabled workers. To qualify, a worker must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA's) of disabled and have worked long enough for employers that paid taxes to the SSA (and paid self-employment taxes).
SSDI benefits can also be extended to a covered worker’s family, including dependent children, former spouses, and even parents. While, unlike minor children and spouses, parents cannot collect dependents benefits during the lifetime of their child, they can collect survivors benefits after their son or daughter's death, in some situations.
In this article we will explain how you may be eligible for SSDI parent’s benefits if your adult child was insured based on his or her own earnings record at the time of his or her death.
You may be eligible for parent's benefits if all of the following are met:
For the purposes of this benefit, your relationship with your insured child qualifies if:
You are the mother or father of the disabled worker who was collecting SSDI benefits and would be considered his or her parent under the laws of the state where your child had a permanent home when he or she died, or
If you are unclear about whether you meet these requirements, contact the SSA or a disability lawyer.
One of the requirements is that you must provide proof to the SSA that your child had been providing at least half of your financial support. Your child must have been financially supporting you in this way up until his or her death or until your child's disability made it impossible for him or her to work and continue to support you. In the latter case, your child's disability must have continued until his or her death.
There is a time limit to this requirement. If your child was providing half of your support up until his or her death, you must give the SSA proof of the support within two years of the date your child died. This should not be difficult since you should be applying for benefits before this time limit is up, and you can submit the necessary documentation with your application.
However, if your child was providing half of your support when he or she became disabled, you must provide the SSA with proof of the support within two years of the date he or she filed for disability. This is true even if though you weren't yet eligible for parent's benefits.
There are two exceptions to the two-year filing requirement:
There is a “good cause” for the late filing. The SSA will find “good cause” in one of the following circumstances:
You are an active service member. If you are an active service member (including a reservist or and member of the national guard), the Soldiers’ and Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940 provides for an extended filing time.
If you are approved for parent's survivor benefits, your entitlement to benefits will begin with the first month that is covered by your application as long as all the requirements for parent’s benefits are satisfied at that point.
You will lose benefits in the month before the month in which one of the following happens:
If you get married to someone who is entitled to one of the following types of benefits, your marriage is considered protected, and your parent’s benefits will not be affected:
Your benefit payment is calculated in one of two ways.
Your benefits amount may be reduced, however, in some circumstances. If the spouse or child of your deceased child is receiving benefits based on your child's earnings record, your benefit amount will be reduced because it's subject to a maximum family benefit. Also, if there was an overpayment made on your child’s earnings record or if you have other earnings, your payment may be reduced. To give you an idea of what your benefits might be, in 2016, the average SSDI benefit is $1,166.
Someone who has been found by a court of law to have intentionally caused the death of an insured person cannot receive benefits based on that insured person’s earnings records.
Also, if you have waived your right to benefits or been granted a tax exemption for religious reasons, you cannot get benefits based on your child’s earnings record.
If you have questions about whether you qualify for parent’s benefits, contact the SSA. Their phone number is 800-772-1213. If you are hard of hearing, call 800-325-0778. The SSA is available by phone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also make an appointment at your local field office if you need help. You can find your field office on the SSA’s website by entering your zip code into the SSA's field office locator.