Can I Receive Retroactive Benefits As A Spouse From When My Children Were Under Age 16?

May 30 2019 - 12:12pm

My husband has is receiving disability. In 2012 I did not receive any income while my husband was on disability. Can I receive retro active benefits as a spouse that I was entitled to that I did not apply for as a spouse when our children where under 16 years of age? When my husband applied for social security, I did not realize I was entitled to receive benefits if I did not have any income in a particular year.


No, you can't claim Social Security child in care spousal benefits any farther back than 6 months prior to the month you apply for them. However, even if you were eligible for benefits when your children were under age 16, claiming those benefits wouldn't have increased your total family benefits. That's because the maximum total amount that can be paid to family members on the record of a person receiving Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits is equal to 50% of the disabled worker's SSDI rate. In other words, the family maximum benefits (FMB) can't exceed 150% of the worker's SSDI rate. So, If more than one family member qualifies for auxiliary benefits at the same time, they just end up splitting the total amount available.

For example, say Bob is eligible for SSDI benefits and his child and wife qualify for benefits on his record. Bob's SSDI rate is $2000 and the FMB that can be paid on his record is $3000. After subtracting Bob's benefit amount from the FMB, only $1000 remains available to be paid to all family members eligible for benefits on his record. The unreduced benefit rate payable to each child and spouse with a child in care is normally equal to 50% of the worker's SSDI rate, however, if Bob's wife and child were both paid their full rates the FMB would be exceeded. Therefore, Bob's wife and child must share the $1000 available from the FMB for family members, and would be paid $500 each. But, if Bob's wife chose not to file for benefits, Bob's child would be paid the full rate of $1000.

Based on your description, it sounds like if you would have filed for child in care spousal benefits any benefits that you would have been paid would have simply reduced your child(ren)'s benefits dollar for dollar.

You may want to consider using our software ( to do your future Social Security planning.

Best, Jerry