Q. I am currently collecting Social Security disability payments. I also receive benefits for my wife and stepson. My wife is a homemaker but is thinking about reentering the job market. How will this affect my benefits and my dependents’ benefits?


A. Your wife’s income cannot affect your benefit or your stepson’s benefit.

There is a family maximum benefit payable on any wage earner’s Social Security earnings record. For Disability Insurance benefits, that maximum is one and a half times the wage earner’s benefit. The wage earner always receives his own benefit. Eligible dependents divide the balance between them. Whenever one dependent becomes ineligible, the amount payable is reapportioned between remaining eligible dependents. Since each eligible dependent is entitled to up to 50 percent of the wage earner’s benefit, the disability benefit family maximum is reached with even one eligible dependent.

Simply put, if your wife enters the labor market at earnings that offset her share of the benefit payable, there will be no change whatsoever in the total amount the family receives until your stepson reaches age 18 – age 19 if he is still in high school.