Are family members eligible for benefits?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 24, 2012

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Other members of your family may be eligible for Social Security benefits when you collect retirement or disability benefits – such as:

(1) your spouse if s/he is age 62 or older

(2) your spouse if s/he cares for your child under age 16 or child who receives social security benefits

(3) your unmarried children under age 18 – or under age 19 while a full-time student in elementary or secondary school – or age 18 or older who is severely disabled

Each family member may be able to receive up to 50% of your retirement or disability benefit amount but the amount of social security benefit payments is limited to 150% to 180%, depending on your particular circumstances. If the total of all benefits paid to family members exceeds the allowable limit, the benefits paid to the family members is reduced – the benefits paid to the worker are not affected by the limitation.

If your ex-spouse had been married to you for at least 10 years, is at least age 62, is unmarried, and is not eligible for an equal or higher on his/her own or someone else’s social security record, your ex-spouse may be eligible for benefits based upon your social security account. Although your ex-spouse may receive benefits based upon your social security account, this does not affect any benefits payable to you and your other family members.

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