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Do the same spousal or family eligibility rules apply for disability benefits as they do for drawing on a worker’s retirement benefits?

The rules are the same. For a current spouse, you have to be married for one year or more and be sixty-two or older. Your retirement benefits have to be worth less than 50 percent of the disabled spouse’s disability benefits. The same goes for you as an ex-spouse, except you’ll have to have been married for ten years, and you’d have to be currently unmarried.

Children up to age nineteen who are still in high school can receive a check. Children who are under age eighteen don’t need to be in high school to receive a check. If you are under sixty-two and are caring for minor children under sixteen, or if you’re caring for disabled children who were disabled before the age of twenty-two, you can receive a check. Combined checks can make a big financial difference in the lives of the disabled and their families.

Benefit amounts for family members are different under disability. The family maximum is up to 150 percent of your disability benefits. Family maximums for other benefits can go up to 180 percent of the worker’s full retirement benefits. The calculation for determining the maximum for family members is different from retirement and survivor benefits. The formula used to determine family maximum benefits in disability cases produces a smaller payment, and in some cases the children will not receive any payment. If minor and disabled children qualify for payments, each may receive up to 50 percent of your disability benefits. Your spouse or ex-spouse can receive up to 50 percent of your disability benefits. Ex-spouses aren’t subject to the family maximum. Family members drawing on your record as a disabled person are each subject to the earnings limit, which was $16,920 in 2017.

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