Ask Larry

Do We Have To Adopt Our Grandchildren For Them To Be Eligible To Receive Benefits On My Record?

I'm on disability insurance at age 55yrs old. I have been on it for past 4yrs now. My conditions will not improve. My wife is 57 and is a stay at home wife. We have permanent custody of our 2 grandsons ages 6 and 8. Do we have to adopt the boys for them to be eligible to recieve benefits on my record? Also wouldn't my wife be entitled as well since she is caring for them ? I can't seem to get any answers through soc sec. They just tell me it dosent work that way, but it says it does in the pamphlet. However it is vague thanks for any help

Hi. I assume you mean that you're collecting Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits. The only way that your grandchildren could qualify for child's benefits on your account without being adopted is if both of their natural parents were either deceased on disabled at the time you became entitled to SSDI benefits (

If you and your wife adopt your grandchildren your wife could then potentially qualify for child in care spousal benefits, but the maximum family maximum benefit (FMB) amount that can be paid on an SSDI account is equal to 150% of the worker's primary insurance amount (PIA). Your PIA is equal to your full SSDI rate, meaning that the maximum total monthly benefits that could be paid your wife and children would be equal to 50% of your full SSDI rate. For example, if someone's full SSDI rate was $1800, the most that could be paid to their other eligible family members would be $900 (i.e. 50% of $1800). That would then have to be split between how ever many family members are eligible for benefits. In other words, 3 family members wouldn't get any more total benefits than if only 1 or 2 family members were drawing.

Furthermore, in some cases the FMB that can be paid on an SSDI worker's record can be as low as 100% of their full SSDI rate, meaning that the amount payable to eligible family members other than the disabled worker would be zero. That's only true when the disabled workers' SSDI rate is relatively low, though (i.e. roughly $920 or less). Therefore, even if you adopt your grandchildren they may not be able to collect any benefits on your account if your SSDI rate is relatively low.

Best, Jerry

Jul 1 2021 - 4:39pm
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