Are you eligible for increased benefits from social security?

You could be eligible for increased social security benefits if your circumstances have changed since originally applying.

If you, or a family member, receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income, certain life changes could increase your benefit amount.

The Social Security’s Potential Entitlement initiative, can help you identify where you might qualify for a higher benefit.  For example, you may be entitled to higher benefits based on your own earnings record or someone else’s record.

Life changes that could increase your benefits include the following scenarios:

  • If your spouse or ex-spouse dies, you may be eligible for a higher survivor benefit based on their earnings record.  The death of an ex-spouse may entitle you to a higher survivor benefit even if you are already receiving a survivor benefit on another spouse’s record.  We encourage you to read our publication, Survivors Benefits, for additional information at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10084.pdf.
  • If you are receiving Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work and you worked and earned credits, you may be eligible for a higher retirement benefit based on your own work.  You can view our Retirement page at www.ssa.gov/retirement.
  • If your deceased adult child provided at least half of your support, you may be eligible for a higher parent’s benefit based on your child’s work history.  Our publication, Parent’s Benefits, includes information you may want to consider at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10036.pdf.

The Potential Entitlement initiative continues to focus on people who face barriers.  These populations include older people, children with disabilities, veterans, SSI recipients, and people with limited English proficiency.  Since the initiative started in 2017, these efforts have resulted in approximately $553 million in retroactive and total monthly increased benefits paid.

Check out Explore the Benefits You May Be Due page at www.ssa.gov/potentialentitlement for more information on any additional benefits available for you and your family.

You can use your personal my Social Security account to check your benefit and payment information, along with your earnings record.  If you don’t have a personal my Social Security account, you can create one today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

Supplemental Security Income benefits for children with disabilities

Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income program provides cash payments to children with disabilities whose families have limited income and resources.

A child must meet all of the following disability requirements to be considered medically eligible for SSI:

  • The child, if not blind, must not be working or earning more than $1,350 a month in 2022.  If the child is blind, they must not be working or earning more than $2,260 in 2022.  The earning amounts usually change every year to keep up with inflation.
  • The child must have a medical condition(s), that result in “marked and severe functional limitations.”  This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit the child’s activities.
  • The child’s condition(s) must last for at least a year or expected to result in death. 

Older teenagers may have part-time jobs or are involved in work programs, which may affect eligibility to SSI.  In addition, if an unmarried child under age 18 is living at home, some of the parents’ income may be considered as the child’s income.

Allowances are made for the parents and their other children living in the home when the parents’ income is considered.  

You can learn more about children’s benefits in our publication, Benefits for Children with Disabilities at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf. 

Children, and adults, can also be assisted through the Compassionate Allowances program.  Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify conditions that, by definition, meet the standard for disability benefits.  

Read the list of conditions at www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm.

Thousands of children receive benefits because they have a condition on this list, but children with conditions not on this list can stillqualify for SSI. 

Compassionate Allowances can help reduce the wait time for a disability determination for children with the most serious disabilities.

 If you are or know a parent, guardian, caregiver, or representative of a child you think may be eligible, visit the Disability Benefits  - Apply for a Child (Under Age 18) at www.ssa.gov/ssikids to learn more and begin an application.