Nationally there are more than 3 million grandparents who are raising and financially supporting their grandchildren, and that number is increasing every year. Grandparents who are receiving either Social Security disability benefits or Social Security retirement benefits may be able to receive additional benefits to help cover the costs of raising their grandchildren. Grandchildren of people who are receiving disability or retirement benefits from the SSA can qualify for Auxiliary benefits, which can substantially increase the amount of money that the grandparents receive each month. That money can be used to help pay for the child’s living expenses.
Qualifying To Receive Auxiliary Benefits
Grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren can receive Auxiliary benefits for their grandchildren even if the grandchildren are step grandchildren or are adopted grandchildren. But, having legal custody of the grandchildren isn’t enough to qualify them to receive Auxiliary benefits. The grandchildren will only qualify for Auxiliary benefits if their situation meets one of these criteria:
- Your grandchild’s parents are disabled
- Your grandchild’s parents are deceased
- You’ve legally adopted your grandchild
That means that if you have custody of your grandchildren but you haven’t formally adopted them and the child’s actual parent is working the child won’t be able to qualify for Auxiliary benefits based on your benefits. But if the child’s parent cannot work because of a disability or if you have formally adopted your grandchild then your grandchild can be eligible for benefits.
How Much Can You Get?
Auxiliary benefits are based on the benefits that you receive. The child will receive a percentage of your benefits that can be up to 75% in some cases. Each of your grandchildren is entitled to receive up to 50% of your benefits monthly, although there is a cap of $800 total in Auxiliary benefits per month. So if you had two grandchildren who were each entitled to $500 as half of your monthly benefit you would only be able to receive $800 additional to your benefits, not $1000. If your spouse dies and your spouse was receiving disability benefits then the children could be eligible for up to 75% of that spouse’s monthly benefit.
How Long Can Grandchildren Receive Social Security Benefits?
If you’re raising your grandchildren and they are eligible for Auxiliary benefits from Social Security they can receive benefits until they turn 18, or 19 if they are still in high school. If you are caring for a grandchild that is disabled and will need care or support after the age of 19 you can talk to a Social Security benefit specialist about your options.
Starting The Application Process
If your grandchildren meet the criteria to receive Auxiliary benefits you can file a claim for benefits for them by making an appointment at the local Social Security Administration office. Take your benefit paperwork and any proof that you have the children’s parents are disabled or deceased, or proof that you have legally adopted your children, with you. A benefits specialist will help you go over all the paperwork to fill out and file your claim.
Disability Benefits: www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/disability_benefits.shtml
Local SSA Office: www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability
Auxiliary Benefits: www.ssa.gov/OACT/ProgData/types.html