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Can family members qualify for disability benefits?

When a person is diagnosed with a serious illness or suffers a devastating injury that leaves them unable to work, the natural inclination is to focus on the plight of just this one person.

While this is certainly understandable, it's also important to remember that many of these people have families, such that the fallout from the illness or injury won't be limited to just the individual, but rather will affect the entire household.

For example, if a wife and mother of three can no longer work thanks to a cancer diagnosis, her husband may have to consider going to part-time to help take care of the children. Similarly, if a single parent if injured in an accident, they may worry about how they will care for their child, who is a full-time student.

The good news is that people in these situations may be able to secure much-needed financial assistance.

How can basic living expenses for family members be covered when a spouse and/or parent is suffering from a disabling medical condition?

According to the Social Security Administration, if an injured or ill person qualifies for Social Security disability benefits, their family members may also be able to collect benefits based on their disability.

What relations would qualify for these so-called family benefits?

Some of those who may qualify for family benefits include:

  • Spouses 62-years-old and older (provided the marriage has lasted for at least one year).
  • Spouses at any age so long as they are disabled and/or caring for your child 16-years-old and under.
  • Unmarried children under 18-years-old or disabled children over 18-year-old.

How much would family members be able to collect?

In general, qualifying relations may collect as much as 50 percent of the disability benefits. However, this is subject to a "family maximum," dictating that the amount of benefits collected by qualifying family members cannot exceed between 150 to 180 percent of the total disability benefits.

It must be noted, however, that all of this is contingent upon a family member qualifying for disability benefits, a process that can sometimes prove difficult.

Fortunately, an experienced legal professional can help people suffering from debilitating medical conditions -- and their families -- navigate the often confusing SSDI system, and fight to secure the benefits that need and deserve.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Who qualifies for Social Security disability benefits?" Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, June 24, 2014

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