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Social Security: Getting benefits for your family members

If you receive Social Security benefits, it’s quite possible you have family members that may qualify on your behalf as well.

social security cards with cash representing social security benefits for qualifying people and family members like spouses, children, and ex-spouses

If they do qualify, they can see up to one half of your monthly payment each month.

Family members receiving benefits based on yours will not decrease your benefit amount.


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Which family members may qualify for Social Security benefits?

  • Ex-spouses
  • Spouses
  • Children

The limit your family can receive is between 150 to 180% of your full retirement benefit, according to the Social Security Administration.

Spouses receiving Social Security benefits

If your spouse has their own benefit they qualify for first, they’ll receive that amount first.

The SSA will then pay an additional amount based on your benefits so the amount is what it should be.

At your spouse’s full retirement age then their benefit can’t exceed more than 50% of your full retirement amount.

Their benefits from your retirement may be reduced if they receive a government pension.

Your amount will not be reduced based on what they receive and may only benefit you in the long run.


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Children receiving Social Security benefits

Children that may qualify can be biological, adopted, or stepchildren. Dependents may qualify as well.

There are some requirements a child needs to meet to qualify.

  • They cannot be married
  • Must be under 18
  • Be 18-19 years old as a full time student in grade 12 or below
  • Be 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22

Unless the child is disabled, the benefits will end when they turn 18 or finish school.

If they work the earnings limit will apply the same way it would to you and your benefits if you worked.


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Ex-spouses receiving benefits

Your ex may be able to collect benefits, even if you’ve remarried, if they meet certain eligibility requirements.

This includes

  • Your marriage lasting at least 10 years
  • They’re unmarried
  • They’re 62 or older
  • The benefit they can get themselves is worth less than up to 50% of yours
  • You are entitled to these benefits

The way an ex-spouses benefits work are similar to how your current spouse’s would work.

If you get remarried your ex-spouse may still qualify.

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