A reader asked if a child can still receive Social Security auxiliary benefits if she is living apart from the disabled parent:
If I have legal guardianship of my nephew and my sister is receiving SSDI. Can I apply to receive the benefits for his caretaking? My sister has been told that she could receive benefits for him, but unless she gets to keep it, she won’t apply for it, saying that the SS office told her it was only if he lived with her. Is that true or could I apply for him?
This is similar to a situation I wrote about concerning divorced parents. Children with disabled parents are still eligible for Social Security auxiliary benefits even if they are living apart from the disabled parent.
Please note: the disabled parent has to be receiving Title 2: Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). If the parent is receiving only Title 16: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), then there are no auxiliary benefits available.
The applicable regulation is 29 CFR 404.350 which describes when children are entitled to auxiliary benefits:
(a) General. You are entitled to child’s benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits or who has died if—
(1) You are the insured person’s child, based upon a relationship described in §§404.355 through 404.359;
(2) You are dependent on the insured, as defined in §§404.360 through 404.365;
(3) You apply;
(4) You are unmarried; and
(5) You are under age 18; you are 18 years old or older and have a disability that began before you became 22 years old; or you are 18 years or older and qualify for benefits as a full-time student as described in §404.367.
Basically, a child is entitled to auxiliary benefits if a parent is disabled or has died, if they are the parent’s natural child, adopted child, step child, or grand child, unmarried, under 18 (or a Disabled Adult Child) and dependent on the disabled parent.
There is no requirement that the child live with the disabled parent.