Certain Tennessee children who are members of non-traditional families may qualify for auxiliary disability benefits as the dependents of disabled adults. Children who are disabled and whose families meet income eligibility guidelines may also qualify for disability benefits. Children may qualify based on a disabled, unmarried parent’s benefits. Children who reside with their grandparents may qualify based on the grandparents’ disabilities if they meet certain qualifications.
Benefits for Children of Unmarried Parents
Children who are born outside of marriage are eligible to receive auxiliary benefits based on a parent’s disability and the parent’s work and earnings record. The parent must be named on the child’s birth certificate. Children may qualify as dependents for Social Security benefits if they have a parent who receives old age and retirement benefits or Social Security disability benefits. They may also qualify if their parent is deceased and had earned enough work credits to qualify for benefits at the time of his or her death. If children are disabled, they may qualify for Supplemental Security benefits based on their own disabling conditions if their parents meet income guidelines.
Benefits for Unofficially Adopted Children
Unofficially adopted children may qualify for dependent benefits based on the record of their unofficial parents in certain situations. To qualify, they must be under the age of 18 and living with a grandparent. Their parents must be deceased or disabled, and the grandparent with whom the children live must receive SSDI. The child must have lived with the grandparent prior to turning 18 and the child must have lived with the grandparent in the U.S. and received at least one-half support from the grandparent during the year before the grandparent became entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits. Children who are unofficially adopted by other adults will not qualify for auxiliary benefits based on their records, however. Children whose parents receive SSI also do not qualify for auxiliary benefits. Auxiliary benefits are solely available through the SSDI program because they are based on the earnings record of the adult parents.
Children who have been unofficially adopted and who do not have a grandparent-grandchild relationship with their care providers may qualify for auxiliary benefits if their caretakers seek to formalize the relationship. They can do so by seeking legal guardianship of the child through the courts or by formalizing the adoption of the child.