What Can I Do If Social Security Won't Process My Daughter's Benefit Using The Combined Max?

Feb 24 2019 - 9:21am

I'm hoping you can help me and provide some guidance. I'm currently receiving
social security Disability benefits. Under my record my daughter qualifies
for benefits. I was just recently notified that her dad is now also receiving
social security benefits disability benefits. I went to my local office to
apply for benefits for my daughter under his record. I was told that she does
not qualify because what he is receiving in benefits to around the same
amount I'm receiving. Which I didn't think sounded accurate and when I got
home I went to the social security website. And it mentions that if a child
qualifies for the same benefit under two records both records are combined to
determine the child's benefit amount. So I called social security and the
person I spoke to also determined based on their guidelines that's how it
should be processed and she advised me to go back to my local office. So I
want to know what options do I have if the local office does not process my
daughter's benefit using the combined max? I'm not sure if this relevant or
not to you answering my question however, there are no other dependents
involved on either side. I appreciate your help!
Thank you!!


There's not enough information in your question for me to know if a combined family maximum would apply in your daughter's case. I'll see if I can explain. The normal benefit rate for a child eligible for benefits on the record of a parent is equal to 50% of the parent's primary insurance amount (PIA). The PIA is equal to the gross amount of a person's Social Security disability (SSDI) benefit rate, or their full retirement age benefit rate. So, if your daughter has been receiving child's benefits on your record she would normally be receiving 50% of your SSDI benefit rate, unless the family maximum benefit (FMB) on your record is less than 150% of your PIA.

Social Security uses a special formula for calculating the FMB payable on the record of a person receiving SSDI, and in some cases the FMB can be as low as 100% of the person's PIA. In those cases, children can't be paid any benefits on their parent's SSDI record even if they would otherwise qualify. You don't mention your or your child's benefit rates, so I don't know whether or not the FMB on your record is causing your daughter to get a benefit rate that's lower than 50% of your SSDI rate.

If a child qualifies for benefits on more than one parent's records, they can only be paid the higher of their 2 benefit rates. Thus, if both parents of a child are receiving SSDI, the maximum amount that the child could be paid is 50% of the PIA of the parent who has the highest PIA. If the FMB on that parent's record reduces the child's benefit amount to less than 50% of the parent's PIA, then the FMBs on both parents' records can be combined to allow the child to receive up to their full 50% of the PIA of the parent with the higher PIA.

Therefore, the only way that your daughter would be eligible for a higher benefit amount if she files for benefits on her father's record is if a) his PIA is higher than yours, or b) your daughter is receiving less than 50% of your PIA due to the amount of the FMB on your record. If you believe that either of those conditions apply in your daughter's case you can insist on filing an application on her behalf, and if you are dissatisfied with Social Security's resulting determination you'll have the right to file an appeal.

Best, Jerry