SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determination

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Latest post 05-19-2012 1:07 AM by Taxagent. 8 replies.
  • 12-22-2011 12:13 AM

    • Dermy
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    SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determination

    I am a little confused and could use the expierience of others to help me out.  Here is the situation:

      My wife (of 1 year) recieves a SSDI benefit for her medical conditions. She receives $1000 per month.  She has a daughter who live with us and whom receives $500 per month. (The daughter is not disabled). Also living with us is my son from a previous marriage (also not disabled). I receive no support from my son's mother who lives in another state.  My wages per year are approximately $50k

    When reading the various rules for whether a step-child is qualified to receive benefits I found that there were a few things which were not clear. 

    1.  "one-half support".  As far as I can research the determination for one half support is made by pooling all income in a household ($68k)  and dividing the total by the number of persons in the household(4) . this result ($17k) is then divided by half ($8.5k) If the child does not have an income of greater than this amount he is qualified.  Since the child does not receive any income from any source, I assertained that the child does in fact meet the criterea, However according to the SS office this was a disqualifier because I as the "natural father" earned more than my wife the stepmother.  I could not, in my research find any referance to any formula used by SS to distinguish between a "natural parent's" and a "step parent's" income.

    2.  The second issue is the total amount of benefits available.  As far as I can tell, the children can receive "150% - 180%" of the beneficiary.   Does this mean that the children can receive a total of 500$  or a total of 1500$  based on the 1000$  my wife gets?  Additionaly if the total benefit is "150%- 180%"  what is the determining factor for the 30% differential?  The SS office told me that since the daughter receives 500$ this makes the "150%"  and that the stepson would therefore not receive any additional amount.

     The SS office originally told me that in order to qualify at all the stepchild must be adopted, since this is clearly NOT correct,  the other disqualifying issues are in question for me as well. I truly appreciate any advice and thank you in advance for your time.

    P.S. As an additional question, I will soon be gaining physical custody of my daughter from my ex- wife as well and am interested to know if this changes the situation at all.  I will not be receiveing any support from the Ex-wife.

     

     

  • 12-30-2011 8:38 PM In reply to

    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determination

    Look at the very last paragraph.  Which is a disabled parent?

  • 01-01-2012 12:42 PM In reply to

    • Dermy
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    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determination

    My current wife is the disabled parent. 

  • 01-01-2012 6:26 PM In reply to

    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determination

    I believe no support!

  • 05-17-2012 8:07 PM In reply to

    • tones
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    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determination

    i too  really really need to know positively the ONE-half rule formula that is used in  the abov case..... I am not sure the above  formula is correct..... can someone in the now please please help.... also if you did not qualify because THE INSURED made less than the natural MOTHER OF THE STEP-CHILD made so much that your  (derived at) income wasn't half....would you be eligible to reapply if the ste childs mothers income enough that you would qualify?

  • 05-18-2012 4:17 AM In reply to

    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determination

    In order for a stepchild to qualify for a benefit because of the stepparent's disability, the disabled stepparent must provide over one-half of the total support to the stepchild. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(4). In the OP's case, he had more income than his disabled spouse who was drawing the benefits. In that case, he'd generally be presumed to provide more than half the support to his child, and thus his child would not be eligible for a benefit based on the stepmother's benefits.

    When the disabled person is still living, the amount of his/her child's or dependent stepchild's benefit is 50% of the disabled person's benefit. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(2). Thus, in the case of the OP who started the thread, his wife was disabled and she received $1000/month in SSDI benefits. Her daughter was receiving $500, 50% of her mother's benefit.

    Had the OP's son (the disabled person's stepson) qualified as her dependent and thus qualified for benefits, he too would have qualified for a benefit of $500. However, there is a cap under 42 U.S.C. § 403 on the total benefits that a family may receive. The basic limit is 150% of the disabled person's benefit. If the total payments to the disabled person and the kids would exceed 150%, the amount the kids get is reduced proportionately; the amount the disabled person gets is not affected.

    Thus, using the OP's case, if his son had qualified as a dependent stepson, he'd initially qualify for $500 of benefits (50% of the disabled stepparent's benefit). But then the family would be receiving $2,000 in benefits each month: $1,000 for the disabled person, $500 for her child, and $500 for her dependent stepchild. That exceeds the base cap of 150% of her benefits, which is $1,500. As a result, each kid would only get $250 in benefits so that the total cap of $1,500 is not exceeded. In some cases the cap can be more, up to around 180% of the basic benefit. But the same principles would apply of reducing each child's benefits proportionately to fit under the family limit. Thus, in the OP's case, even if his son qualified as a dependent stepchild, it likely would make no difference in the amount of the total benefits they received each month. Social Security explains this limit here: maximum family amount.

  • 05-18-2012 7:45 PM In reply to

    • tones
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    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determina...

     

    do you know if this statement the original poster made is accurate..... 

    1. "one-half support". As far as I can research the determination for one half support is made by pooling all income in a household ($68k) and dividing the total by the number of persons in the household(4) . this result ($17k) is then divided by half ($8.5k)

     

    the one half rule computation is difficult to find online. i know ss office uses a formula something like what poster described i am not sure if it is correct.... i  need to be able to do the math before wife applies for her child  to insure eligability .if i had the formula i could plug in numbers and simply do the math and be in the know. 

  • 05-18-2012 7:50 PM In reply to

    • tones
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    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determina...

    i thought the formula  was total houselhold income. divided by number in household then divide by 12 to get monthly amount.....then if one half of my income is greater than this amount  eligibiloity would be met.... is this correct?  

  • 05-19-2012 1:07 AM In reply to

    Re: SSDI benefits to stepchildren one half support determina...

    tones:
    i thought the formula  was total houselhold income. divided by number in household then divide by 12 to get monthly amount.....then if one half of my income is greater than this amount  eligibiloity would be met.... is this correct?  

    No, that's not correct. It's more complex than that. Bear in mind that the statute requires that the disabled person contribute more than one-half of the stepchild's support for the stepchild to qualify for benefits. SSA uses several different default rules depending on the circumstances, and in any case if the facts show something different than the default rule does, those facts are what will control. That said, the most common situation is likely where the members of the household pool their income and share support of all family members equally. Moreover, it's likely that the step-child doesn't have a lot of his own income. If that that's the fact pattern, the following pooled fund method is what SSA by default would use (as copied from the SSA Procedure Operations Manual (POM):

    _____________________________________________

    NH and spouse both have income; stepchild may or may not have outside income

    NOTE: Remember the NH's contributions to the stepchild must equal or exceed one-half support.

    1. Determine the support period (see RS 01301.020B).

    2. Compute the total gross income to the family from all sources during the support period.

    3. Divide the total amount of income by the number of members in the household. This amount constitutes the cost of support for each member. Dividing this amount by 2 equals one-half of each member's support.

    4. If the stepchild's outside income exceeds one-half the cost of support, the NH could not have been providing at least one-half support. If the stepchild's income is equal to or less than one-half the cost of support, or if the stepchild has no outside income, proceed to the following steps.

    5. For each member of the household whose income exceeds the cost of support, (e.g., the NH and spouse), the cost of his/her own support is subtracted from their income. The balance is the amount that individual is contributing toward the support of other household members.

    6. To compute the balance of the stepchild's support (which comes from the contributions of the NH and spouse), subtract the stepchild's income from the cost of support.

    7. Compute the proportion of the NH's contributions to the stepchild as follows:

    Using the amounts arrived at in 5 (the NH's and spouse's balance available for support of other household members), then add the two figures together. Determine what proportion of the total amount the NH's contribution represents. This fraction is the proportion of the NH's support to the stepchild.

    8. Apply the fraction derived in 7 to the balance of the stepchild's support (the amount arrived at in 6) to determine how much of the balance of support the NH contributed. If the result is equal to or greater than one-half the cost of the stepchild's support, the one-half support requirement is met.

    EXAMPLE: John Sanders became entitled to disability insurance benefits (DIB) in July 2010. The support period is the 12 months before he became disabled. In that year, he lived in the same household with his wife Marie and her son James. James is now applying for benefits as John's stepchild.

    John's income during this period was $20,000. Marie's income was $15,000, and James received $4,000 during the period from his grandfather. Pooling all household income, the total family income was $39,000. The cost of each member's support was $13,000. One-half is $6,500. Since James' income did not exceed $6,500, SSA must determine whether John was providing at least one-half of his support.

    Both John's income and Marie's income exceeded the cost of each one's support ($13,000). Subtract the cost of support from their share of income. The balance of John's income available for support of other household members is $7,000 ($20,000 minus $13,000); for Marie, the balance is $2000 (15,000 minus $13,000).

    Subtract the amount of James' income from the cost of his support ($13,000 minus $4,000 = $9,000). The balance of his support came from the contributions of John and Marie.

    In order to determine how much of the balance of James' support came from the NH, apply the following rule:

    The proportion of one member's contributions to any other member is the same as the proportion of their contributions (minus their own support) to the total of the remaining amounts available for support by the contributing members.

    Compute the proportions as follows:

                                                                        John                     Marie

    Income                                                        $20,000               $15,000
    Cost of own support                                    -13,000                -13,000
    Available for support of other                        $7,000                 $2,000

    John's contribution to James' support equals 78% of $9,000 (the balance of James support). Compute the proportion of 78% by dividing $7,000 (the balance available from John) by $9000 (the total remaining support available from John and Marie).

    Since 78% of the balance of James' support ($9,000) is $7,020, and this amount is greater than $6,500 (one-half the cost of James' support), John, the NH provided one-half support and the requirement for James' entitlement is met.

    _______________________________________

    Again, what method SSA will apply in any give case depends greatly on the facts. The statute requires that the disabled person provide more than half the support of the stepchild. Where only the disabled person and her spouse have contributed to the stepchild's support (i.e the stepchild has no income of his own and no one else, like the spouse's ex, contributes to the child's support) you can see that using the pooled approach above, the spouse with the greater income is the one who would be considered to contribute over half the child's support.

    By the way, NH in the SSA manual stands for "number holder," i.e. the disabled person on whose wage record the step child is seeking to qualify for benefits.

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