Guide to Auxiliary Benefits (Family Disability Benefits)

When one parent can no longer work because of a disability, the other, along with their children, might be eligible for auxiliary benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Also known as family benefits, auxiliary benefits are paid in addition to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and do not reduce a primary beneficiary’s SSDI benefit amount. Each eligible family member might be able to get up to 50% of the primary beneficiary’s benefit amount, though that it is not guaranteed. There is no limit to how many family members can get auxiliary benefits, though the SSA might reduce their individual benefit amounts if they exceed the maximum family benefit allowance. Auxiliary benefits can change to survivors benefits if primary beneficiaries die, possibly resulting in larger monthly benefits for surviving spouses or children. Auxiliary benefits are not factored into a primary beneficiary’s overall income, meaning recipients can stay below substantial gainful activity (SGA) limits while getting additional financial support from the SSA.

To schedule a confidential and free assessment of your case from our disability lawyers, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates now at (215) 515-2954 or (609) 557-3081.

What Are Auxiliary Benefits?

If you were recently approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, your immediate family members might be eligible for additional auxiliary benefits from the Social Security Administration, also known as family benefits.

The SSA pays auxiliary benefits in addition to SSDI or other disability benefits, not in place of them. These benefits are paid to immediate family members of SSDI recipients to increase the family’s total monthly income. This is often necessary for families of SSDI recipients, as the maximum monthly SSDI benefit is just $3,822. For some, that might be enough to support themselves. For others with large families, additional financial support might be necessary and can come in the form of auxiliary benefits. Furthermore, it is important to note that the maximum monthly SSDI benefit is not available to all recipients, just those near retirement age. Your specific SSDI benefit amount will be calculated according to your work history, which will also help determine the auxiliary payments your family gets.

While the SSA pays auxiliary benefits in addition to SSDI payments, it will not automatically do so. Your spouse or children must apply for family benefits to get them, which our disability lawyers can assist with by preparing the necessary information and submitting it to the Social Security Administration.

Who Can Receive Auxiliary Benefits?

Auxiliary benefits are only available to primary beneficiaries’ children, spouses, and ex-spouses. Furthermore, these individuals must meet additional criteria to show the SSA they are entitled to family benefits.


Those currently married to disability recipients can get auxiliary benefits if they are 62 or older or are any age and have an in-house child. This means that they have a child who is 16 years old or younger or qualifies as a disabled adult child (DAC). Ex-spouses can also get auxiliary benefits through an ex’s record if they were married for at least ten years, are at least 62 years old, are unmarried, and are ineligible for benefits on their own record or someone else’s. This can get confusing, especially in situations involving ex-spouses, and our lawyers can help you determine whether you are eligible for auxiliary benefits based on your specific situation.


Children of disability recipients can also get auxiliary benefits, provided they meet the various criteria. To get family benefits, children of SSDI recipients must be unmarried and under 18. Alternatively, if the child of a disability recipient is disabled themselves and was diagnosed with their disability before the age of 22, they can get family benefits even if they are older than 18. The SSA classifies such individuals as DACs, and they can get SSDI benefits themselves through a parent’s earning record if they require financial support.

In addition to being under the age of 18 or otherwise being classified as a DAC, children seeking auxiliary benefits must show the SSA that they meet extra criteria. For example, they must meet the definition of “child” as defined by the SSA, meaning they must be the biological, adoptive, or, in some cases, step-child of the primary beneficiary.

Furthermore, the child must have been dependent on the primary beneficiary during at least one of three points in time. For example, a child must have been dependent on the primary beneficiary at the beginning of the worker’s disability, when the worker was last entitled to disability benefits, or when the child’s application for auxiliary benefits was filed. Depending on the specifics of a case, there might be additional dependency requirements a child has to meet in order to prove their eligibility for auxiliary benefits.

Are You Eligible for Auxiliary Benefits?

In order for the SSA to consider someone’s eligibility for auxiliary benefits, that person must have the necessary relationship with an insured worker. This means that there must first be a primary beneficiary who is eligible for SSDI benefits for there to be a family member who is eligible for auxiliary benefits.

Eligibility for SSDI benefits is based on two factors: a person’s work history and disability. Work history is of greatest concern when it comes to auxiliary benefits, as that is how our lawyers estimate a family’s additional income.

To have a sufficient earning record for SSDI, an applicant must have work credits. Individuals can earn up to four work credits per year, which is done when workers earn $6,920 in income. To be eligible for any disability benefits, an applicant must have at least 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years preceding their disability diagnosis.

Once we have established that a primary beneficiary is, in fact, eligible for SSDI, we can help their immediate family members apply for auxiliary benefits, the amounts of which will be calculated according to the primary beneficiary’s benefit amount. That amount is ultimately based on their earning record, or the number of work credits they have accrued, which is why examining their history prior to applying is important.

When Are Auxiliary Benefits Not Payable?

When applying for auxiliary benefits, primary beneficiaries or their spouses might leave out crucial information or fail to meet certain standards, resulting in their applications being denied.

Spouses under retirement age can typically only get auxiliary benefits if they have a child under 16 in their care. The Social Security Administration might deny applications for auxiliary benefits in cases where spouses are separated or a minor child has been removed from a parent’s care.

Child benefits are not payable in specific situations, which our lawyers can explain in the event that they apply to your case. Generally speaking, the biggest issues with applications for auxiliary benefits occur when parents leave out important information required by the SSA.

Maximum Auxiliary Family Benefit Amounts

Auxiliary benefits are based on several factors, such as a recipient’s relationship to the primary beneficiary and the primary beneficiary’s benefit amount. Our lawyers can explain how the SSA calculates auxiliary benefits and what might happen if your family’s total benefit amount exceeds the limit allowed by the SSA.

Generally speaking, each family member who is eligible for auxiliary benefits can receive up to 50% of the primary beneficiary’s benefit amount. That said, there is a maximum when it comes to how much the SSA will pay to one family. In most cases, the maximum total family benefit amount is between 150% and 180% of the primary insurance amount. Suppose a disability recipient has a spouse and several children and the auxiliary benefits payable to them would be above the maximum family benefit allowed by the SSA. In that case, the SSA might reduce each of their individual auxiliary benefit amounts as necessary.

Suppose you have recently applied for SSDI and are interested in how auxiliary benefits can increase your family’s overall income. In that case, our attorneys can estimate the total benefits your family might be eligible for by reviewing your income prior to sustaining a disability and your work history to calculate your likely SSDI benefit amount and, by extension, your family’s auxiliary benefits.

When to Apply for Family Benefits

Many SSDI recipients are unaware of the existence of auxiliary benefits when they originally apply for support from the SSA. Even if it has been years since you’ve been approved for SSDI benefits, it is not too late for your family to apply for auxiliary benefits.

Applications for SSDI benefits are usually subject to a five-month waiting period. After the SSA informs you of your approval, you can immediately begin the application process for auxiliary benefits for your spouse and children. By doing this as soon as possible, you can get the greatest financial support from the SSA from the get-go. The SSA may pay auxiliary benefits to children retroactively for up to 12 months.

How to Apply for Auxiliary Benefits

Applying for auxiliary benefits is similar to applying for SSDI benefits. Our attorneys can gather the necessary information for a child or spouse’s application for family benefits so that the Social Security Administration approves it without issue.

Family Benefits for Children

If you are applying for auxiliary benefits on your child’s behalf, there is information and documents you will need to provide to the SSA along with the application. This will include your child’s birth certificate or proof of adoption and proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship, among other information. The SSA might ask questions to verify your relationship with your child, such as whether or not they live with you at home. If your child qualifies as a DAC, you might need to complete additional forms and provide information about their medical condition.

Family Benefits for Spouses

When applying for auxiliary benefits as the spouse of an SSDI recipient, you must provide the SSA with certain information. This will include your birth certificate, marriage certificate, and W-2 forms for the last year. The SSA will also ask you various questions, such as information about your spouse, children, and current employment status. You should also be prepared to give the SSA your banking information so that you can easily receive your auxiliary benefits after getting approved.

How Long Does it Take to Get Approved for Auxiliary Benefits?

The Social Security Administration is not necessarily known for its efficiency when handling claims. Because of this, it might be several weeks or months before the SSA approves an application for auxiliary benefits.

Generally speaking, those who apply for auxiliary benefits are not subject to the same five-month waiting period after approval as SSDI benefit recipients. That said, there is no telling how long it will take for the SSA to review an application for auxiliary benefits. If an application lacks certain information, the approval process might take longer.

Suppose you, your spouse, or your child applied for auxiliary benefits months ago and have not heard back from the Social Security Administration. In that case, our Allentown, PA disability lawyers can contact the SSA to determine the status of your application. If the SSA has additional questions or requires more information, we can help you respond promptly so that the SSA approves your application as quickly as possible.

Do Auxiliary Benefits Impact SSDI Benefit Amounts?

Upon learning that their family members are eligible for auxiliary benefits through their records, disability benefit recipients might wonder if their monthly payments will be affected. The answer is no.

Auxiliary benefits increase the overall income for an SSDI recipient’s family. You will get your normal monthly payment from the SSA, but that’s not all. On top of that, each eligible member of your family will get their own monthly auxiliary benefit.

In the event that your family’s computed benefit amount is greater than the maximum family benefit allowed by the Social Security Adiminstration, it will reduce their individual benefits proportionally as necessary. The primary beneficiary’s benefit will be unaffected in these cases, as it is calculated separately from the maximum family benefit.

Auxiliary Benefits for Surviving Family Members

If a primary beneficiary dies while on disability, their family’s auxiliary benefits will likely convert to survivors benefits. When this happens, monthly benefit amounts might change.

Survivors benefits are calculated differently than auxiliary benefits and are generally greater. For example, a surviving spouse who is at full retirement age or older may receive 100% of a decedent’s benefit amount. Surviving spouses caring for a child under 16, regardless of their age, can receive up to 75% of a decedent’s benefit amount, as can dependent children under 18. There are additional survivors benefits available to dependent parents of decedents and surviving spouses with disabilities.

Eligible family members can apply for survivors benefits after a primary beneficiary’s death. If family members already received auxiliary benefits before a decedent’s death, their benefits should easily convert to survivors benefits. If your benefit amount has not changed since the death of a primary beneficiary, our lawyers can contact the SSA to update the agency about the situation.

Payment Schedules for Auxiliary Benefits

The Social Security Administration follows a regular payment schedule for SSDI and auxiliary benefits. This means that after getting approved, you can expect to receive your benefits at the same time each month.

Apart from Supplemental Security Insurance benefits, which are paid on the first of each month, the SSA pays all other Social Security benefits on either the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of every month. Which day each individual recipient gets their auxiliary benefits will depend on their birthday. If your birthday falls between the 1st and the 10th of the month, you’ll get your benefit on the second Wednesday. If your birthday falls between the 11th and the 20th of the month, you’ll get your benefit on the second Wednesday. And finally, if your birthday falls between the 21st and the 31st of the month, you’ll get your benefit on the fourth Wednesday.

Generally speaking, it’s easiest to opt to get SSA payments through direct deposit, whether they are SSDI benefits or auxiliary benefits. There’s a greater chance that recipients experience delays when the SSA sends checks out by mail. When the SSA sends payments via direct deposit, it does so at midnight on the correct payment date.

How Long Can Eligible Family Members Get Auxiliary Benefits?

If your immediate family members qualify for auxiliary benefits through your record, how long they can continue to receive payments could depend on several factors, such as their age, marital status, and your continuing eligibility for disability benefits.

Child benefits typically last until a primary beneficiary’s child turns 18. That said, if a primary beneficiary’s child is also a DAC, they can continue to receive benefits for as long as necessary. Because the SSA allows people to get auxiliary benefits through an ex-spouse’s earning record in certain situations, some individuals might be able to keep receiving family benefits even after getting divorced. If a primary beneficiary is no longer eligible for SSDI benefits, auxiliary benefits will also stop. The SSA assesses recipients’ continuing eligibility for SSDI benefits routinely and, during one of these reviews, might learn new information about a recipient’s medical condition that disqualifies them from getting further benefits.

If you get auxiliary benefits as a spouse, they will stop once you no longer have an in-house child under the age of 16. They might resume once you reach age 62 or if you meet other criteria for auxiliary benefits for spouses in the future.

Auxiliary Benefits and Social Security Disability Income Limits

When the SSA approves an SSDI application, it is because the applicant can no longer work because of an injury, illness, or disability. To reinforce the importance of this point, the SSA has set substantial gainful activity limits for disability benefit recipients, preventing them from earning a certain amount in additional income each month. If your family gets auxiliary benefits, will those payments count toward your SGA?

Fortunately, the answer is no. The SGA limit is only an issue when it comes to money earned from working. For example, if you tried to work a part-time job while getting SSDI, and that job generated too much income, you might be over the SGA limit for the month. For 2024, the monthly SGA limit is $2,590 for blind individuals and $1,550 for non-blind individuals. Even if your family’s overall auxiliary benefits exceed the SGA limit, you will have nothing to worry about, as it does not count toward your income in the eyes of the SSA. That said, auxiliary benefits are taxable income, which is something for eligible family members to keep in mind.

Similarly, auxiliary benefits do not impact trial work periods (TWPs). Disability benefit recipients automatically trigger TWPs whenever they earn upwards of $1,110 in a month. If left unchecked, TWPs could cause SSDI recipients to lose their benefits and their family members to lose their auxiliary benefits. To prevent this from happening, our attorneys can identify a TWP and address it with the SSA promptly. Even if you and your family are at risk of losing SSDI or auxiliary payments, we may be able to prove your continuing eligibility for benefits despite a recent TWP.

Call Our Lawyers to Learn More About Auxiliary Benefits Today

To get a free case review from our attorneys today, call the Berks County, PA disability lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 515-2954 or (609) 557-3081.

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