What Is The Most That My Family Could Receive?

Jan 28 2017 - 8:00am

I am 49 yrs old and was approved for $1849/mth for SSDI effective May, 2016. My stepson (27) gets $945/mth for SSDI on his own record. He earns about $20k/yr from work which is over the SGA limit but is able to continue to receive his SSDI because his job is a heavily subsidized job where SSA determined that he does not earn or perform SGA. He has been disabled (physically & mentally ) since birth.
Can you tell me how much my family max. benefit or combined family max. benefit is?
Here is my thought, I believe my wife could get spousal benefits under my record because she has a "child in care" with her son and earns under $16720.00 per/yr (earning test limit). His benefit amount on his own record ($945) is more than what he would get based on my record (1849 x 50% = $925). Can my wife (47) still qualify for 50% of my amount ($925)for spousal benefits and my stepson still get his $945 on his record? We have been married for 21 yrs.

As a family, can we get the following:
1. Myself = $1849
2. Spouse = $925 (my working record)
3. Stepson = $945 (his working record)

I am hoping our FMB or CFMB (not sure which is applicable) would include all three amounts since he would collect benefits from his record and not mine. Does it help us overall if she receives spousal benefits on my record and he receives his benefits from his own working record instead of mine? As a total benefit, can we get more than 150% of my PIA if he gets his benefits from his PIA?


Hi David,

The family maximum on your record would be 150% of your disability benefit rate (PIA). A combined family maximum would not be involved in your case. Family maximums can only be combined when a child is entitled to benefits on the accounts of more than one parent.

In order for your wife to qualify for spousal benefits on your record on the basis of having a child in her care, your step-son would have to at least technically qualify for benefits as a child on your record, even if he couldn't actually receive child's benefits because his own benefits are higher. And, in order for a step-child to qualify on a step-parent's record, they must meet a dependency requirement. The basic rule is that the step-parent must have been providing at least one-half of the child's financial support at the time that the step-parent became disabled. or thereafter (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0301301190). So, if your step-son is providing for more than one-half of his own support with his earnings and Social Security benefits, it's unlikely he'd be considered dependent on you, which in turn would rule out child in care entitlement for your wife.

If your step-son does qualify as a dependent child on your record, and if your wife qualifies for spousal benefits, then her benefit rate would be 50% of your PIA. And, she could get her full benefit since your step-son is receiving higher benefits on his own record. The benefit he draws on his own record doesn't count toward your family maximum rate, so the 3 of you could conceivably receive benefits totaling more than 150% of your PIA.

Best, Jerry