Question about SSDI, family benefits and primary caregiver

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Latest post 11-02-2009 6:25 PM by Kivi. 2 replies.
  • 11-01-2009 9:25 AM

    Question about SSDI, family benefits and primary caregiver

    I have a question about family benefits and SSDI.  I have been receiving SSDI benefits for about 2 years.  My three children have also been receiving benefits checks on my behalf for the same amount of time.  Their check totals add up to about 50% of my benefit.  For even numbers assume my benefit amount is $1000 and each child is receiving about $166 per month.  My wife recently gave birth to our 4th child and I called the SSA the other day to have her added to my record so she can start receiving benefits in my name.  The worker I spoke with said that the benefit amount to each child would decrease because instead of being split 3 ways now it was going to be split 4 ways.  I understand that, no problem. 

    But what I don't understand is what he asked next.  He asked if my wife helped care for the children.  Naturally I said yes, and that she currently only works part-time because I can't take care of the children by myself and I need help.  He went on to ask if she had filed for benefits on my behalf, though I can't recall exactly what he referred to it as, but maybe he referenced "primary caregiver of my children"?  Anyhow I told him that she had not because when I finally got approved for benefits (long ardous process that was), that I was beyond confused and thought that at that time the family benefit amount would be split 4 ways instead of 3 just among the three children.  So it really didn't matter at that time.

    But what he asked was how much she made per year.  I was a little confused but he said that if she made I think less than $12,000 per year she could be entitled to some kind of benefits on my behalf.  He was going to send information about what he was referring to but what we received is very vague and no details about what potential benefits she was filing for.

    I guess what I'm trying to ask is if the benefits that are paid to the primary caregiver of my children come from the family benefit pool if she filed for them.  In turn the $500 family benefit would be split 5 ways (1 part for each child including the newborn and the caregiver, aka my wife).  Is my thinking correct or would it not come from the family benefit pool?  I'm very curious about this because we are grappling with some hard decisions right now because she recently lost her job.  Some extra money while she looks for a job or goes to school would be great.  It could certainly help save us from financial ruin and allow us to keep our house until we weather the storm.

    Thanks for reading.

  • 11-02-2009 9:33 AM In reply to

    Re: Question about SSDI, family benefits and primary caregiv...

    I just got off the phone with an agent from Social Security and they answered my question.  She said that if she was to apply for the benefits it would merely take the benefit amount that is currently coming toward the children and split that amongst my wife as well.  It would not increase the actual dollar amount that we are currently receiving.


    Thanks for reading.

  • 11-02-2009 6:25 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-01-2005
    • CA
    • Posts 6,170

    Re: Question about SSDI, family benefits and primary caregiv...

    I agree with that answer.

    However, children eventually age off SS benefits.  Given the number of children that you have, I think that I would have her added. She would then receive benefits until the youngest child was age 16, as long as her earnings were below the SS limits for someone under full retirement age, generally between 65 and 67.

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