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Family members may qualify Social Security disability benefits

When a disabling illness or injury prevents a Philadelphia resident from working to support their family, they may turn to the Social Security Administration's application process to request disability benefits. Disability benefits are available to men and women who cannot work because of their qualifying medical conditions, and who need financial support to live their lives.

However, when a disability prevents a person from earning an income the loss of their capacity to work often affects more than just them. For example, if the person is married or has children who depend on them, the benefits that they receive from the Social Security Administration may be insufficient to provide for all of their needs.

For this reason the Social Security Administration allows qualifying relatives of disability benefit-receiving individuals to apply for benefits as well. Generally, the review will require the applicant to prove their affiliation with the benefit recipient, such as through a birth certificate, a Social Security number and if necessary, proof of marriage.

A person's spouse and ex-spouse may both qualify for disability benefits based on a recipient's benefits package. Both, if qualified, may receive benefits without affecting each other's monthly benefit payment. However, there is a limit on how much the family members of a benefit recipient may receive. If the amount applied for exceeds the family limit, then the family members of the benefits recipient may see their benefits proportionally reduced.

Knowing how and when to apply for Social Security disability benefits as an initial applicant or family member can be a confusing process. However, with the support of a dedicated Social Security benefits legal team, applicants can be confident that they are taking proactive steps toward getting the support they need.

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee