Q. I am 50 years old and have been on Social Security Disability Insurance for two years. I can’t get any benefits for my daughter, who is 14. I receive $621 in SSDI benefits and don’t qualify for SSI because my husband is working. I have been a stay at home mom or just worked part-time before my disability. When I called SSA they said my daughter won’t get any benefits because $621 is my maximum and there aren’t any more funds left for my daughter (based on my past work history). I thought children of disabled parents were entitled to get half of the SSDI amount.


A. Ordinarily an eligible dependent of a Social Security recipient is entitled to a Social Security dependent benefit. However, with Disability Insurance benefits, dependent benefits may not be payable.

There is a family maximum amount payable on any wage earner’s Social Security earnings record. For the most part, higher average earnings over a working lifetime provide a higher family maximum. For retirement and survivor benefits, the family maximum ranges from 150 to 180 percent of the wage earner’s benefit (i.e. the wage earner receives the 100 percent; eligible dependents receive the percentage provided by law or equally divide the maximum payable between them). Social Security amendments enacted in 1980 reduced the family maximum for Disability Insurance benefits to 80 to 150 percent of the wage earner’s benefit. In your case, the 100 percent benefit payable to you as a wage earner is equal to or possibly even greater than the family maximum based on your earnings history. As a result, no benefit is payable to your daughter.