Disability, General, Retirement, SSI, Survivors

You and Your Family May Be Eligible for Increased Benefits

September 9, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

mother and daughter using laptop onlineWe know your circumstances may change after you apply—or become eligible—for benefits. If you, or a family member, receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain life changes could entitle you to an increase in your benefit amount.

As part of our Potential Entitlement initiative, we want to 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. Some of the life changes that could possibly 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 his or her 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. Our publication, Survivors Benefits, has additional information we encourage you to check out.
  • If you are receiving Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work and you have worked, you may be eligible for a higher retirement benefit based on your own work.
  • 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 more information you may want to consider.

We continue to focus our Potential Entitlement initiative on people who face barriers to service. This includes our elderly population, children with disabilities, veterans, SSI recipients, and people with limited English proficiency. We are proud to say that since we started the initiative in 2017, our efforts have resulted in approximately $553 million in retroactive and total monthly increased benefits paid.

We encourage you to check out our Explore the Benefits You May Be Due page 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!

Please share this information with your friends and family—and post it on social media.

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About the Author

Dawn Bystry, Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications


  1. Elizabeth R.

    My husband is receiving SSA, he reached age 62. I’ve reached 62 now, I want to apply for my SSA. Will his SSA check be impacted if I apply for my SSA using my own work credits?

    • Sonya

      My son father receives over $1200 a month with retirement but our son only receive $300 is that the correct amount?

      • A.C.

        Hi, Sonya. If a child qualifies on a parent’s disability record, they may be eligible for a monthly benefit of up to 50 percent of the parent’s disability rate. However, there is a limit to the amount we can pay each family member. The total depends on the dad’s benefit amount and the number of family members who also qualify on his record. The total varies, but generally the total amount he and his family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of his disability benefit. If the sum of the benefits payable on his account is greater than the family limit, the benefits to the family members will be reduced proportionately. For more information on Family Benefits, please visit our Benefits Planner page. We hope this helps.  

    • A.C.

      Hi, Elizabeth. If your husband is receiving Social Security retirement benefits, your benefit on your own record does not affect his benefit. Thanks! 

  2. Charlotte

    Why is someone who have never worked getting more in social security than I am, and I worked 25 years? I get SSD, disability, and my income per month is limited. I cant make ends meet because of the maximum earnings allowed.

    What is the maximum earnings for those barely able to work, but have no other choice?

    • A.C.

      Hi, Charlotte. If you are referring to Social Security disability benefits, special rules allow you to work temporarily without losing your monthly Social Security disability benefits. After your nine-month trial work period, we still provide a safety net that allows you to work another three years risk free. During those three years, you can work and still receive benefits for any month in which your earnings do not exceed a certain limit. For 2022 those limits are: $2,260 for blind individuals; or $1,350 a month if you are not blind. For more information about working while receiving Social Security disability benefits, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

  3. Kathryn W.

    I am on SSI disability and Medicare and Medicaid. I am getting married and want to know about any changes in my coverages , if any. Thank you.

  4. Rick G.

    How do I apply for increased SS payments for serving on active duty from 1957 to 2001? I must ask how I apply for this. No info on this

    • A.C.

      Hi, Rick. If you are referring to military credits, under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for your military service from 1957 through 2001 can be credited to your record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings credits may increase the amount of your Social Security benefit. Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. They are not granted for inactive duty training.

      For more information on special extra earnings for military service, please check out our publication, Military Service and Social Security. If you have specific questions about your own record, please contact your local Social Security office for assistance. We hope this helps.

  5. Sarin S.

    Since after I graduated from high school of 1991 I always been working. 06/10/2020 last day of work I was seen by the specialist that I couldn’t able to work. Up to today date 01/07/2022 I didn’t have any INCOME at all. I have a minor and she have to suffered with me sleep in someone’s garage with me in the cold for many months. What does it take to get qualify for food and a roof for her? If I could able to , I would rather work. I wouldn’t let my daughter suffered like this . We both are TRULY suffered…

  6. John E.

    I applied for widower benefit , but some how I got an answer related to SSI. Social security sent me a check but it got returned some how. Isent back letter showing correct address, but no check has been received. That was 3 weeks ago. jce

    • V.V.

      Hi John, thanks for using our blog. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 where we have representatives available from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. business days. You can also call your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information.

  7. John J.

    My husband and I got married 8yrs ago when same sex marriage was made legal. We have lives together for 22y.my question is , will our ssi change as a result of us being married. I’ve been the person that supplies income to our household for 22 yes. Mark, my husband is a stay at home partner.

  8. Ambure M.

    I’m trying to report a change to my case for ssi I traded my car for another car because it is cheaper payment and cheaper on my insurance I also took my daughter to get her Dodge Ram traded in for a different car so she could have cheaper payment for insurance as well due to getting fired from my job for disability when I called my case manager did not make the change she said it didn’t matter about trading the cars for cheaper payment how do I get my change on vechicle on my case

    • V.V.

      For your security, Ambure, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can call your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  9. Carl M.

    my wife is on disability we did not know when we got married that her check would effect mine i do not have enough work credits but could have gotted ssi but being married 1157 was cut off her ck was 1260 i have been struggling to work for the past 3 to 4 years but still the only way for me to recieve any help is seperate or divorce seems so unfair that a couple has to resort to this just to live especially with a heart condition

  10. Jeannie M.

    during covid 19 when business shut down and self employment and pua started we paid taxes in this what happens to work credits not earned due to the covid?? somehow seems unfair

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