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. sona

    A good informative post that you have shared and thankful your work for sharing the information. I appreciate your efforts and all the best. Thank you for taking the time and sharing this tutorial. It was indeed very helpful and insightful.

  2. J L.

    I applied for Retirement benefits in May 2021 -it took until July 22nd to get approved, that was great!
    My Problem: I signed up for Medicare and I received a bill for $594 to be paid by July 25. I sent a check on the 20 and they received until July 28. Now, my first check received in August was reduced by 2 Medicare payments and the one for this month it was deducted one more payment
    What do I have to do to get a refund?

    • Margaret

      When did your medicare coverage take effect? My guess would be March 1st. The $594 you paid was for the months of March, April, May and June ($148.50 x 4). You did not pay July. When you received your first check in August they deducted the medicare premium for July and August. Effective September and forward your checks will reflect monthly deductions. Note that medicare premiums are billed quarterly when
      you don’t receive a social security check. So you were billed for March ( which is the last month of the 1st quarter) plus the second quarter (April May and June).

    • Patty

      Hi J L, thank you for your question. If there is a Medicare premium overpayment, Social Security will automatically refund the premium overpayment. You will get a refund check separate from your regular monthly Social Security benefit. We hope this helps.

    • Michelle G.

      Hola yo.ahareo ssi todo lo.dia 1 me va a subir el.cheque si ono

  3. Hospitals &.

    It is nearly time for Acting Commissioner Kililo Kijakazi to decide on the amount of the annual Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the late release of Annual Report on the Supplemental Security Program pursuant to Sec. 215(i) of the Social Security Act 42USC415(i).

    The Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the OASDI Trust Funds suggests a 2021 COLA of 2.4, 3.1 or 3.5 percent. However, after a meager 1.3 percent 2020 COLA, to pay for 1.4 percent CPI Inflation December 2019-2020, a 0.1 percent underpayment, the news media has been suing for a COLA of 4 to more than 6 percent. Although the Board estimates CPI inflation of 2.54, 3.06 or 3.32 percent in 2021 the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates August 2020 to August 2021 inflation of 5.3 percent.

    There have long been complaints that the method of estimating the COLA exactly equal to biased premature estimates of CPI inflation dramatically drives down beneficiary purchasing power, to the point Medicare Part B has developed a program of premium relief for low income beneficiaries. To create a system that would end poverty, as is the imperative of social security design, low-income benefits must increase at a rate that is slightly higher than inflation. 2021 presents a different circumstance where the catch up inflation from the low rate in 2020, 5.4 percent, is more expensive than the Board wishes to entertain, and this is a valuable civil rights bargaining chip for the poor to get the 3 percent COLA they have deserved since 1980. The Acting Commissioner may either pay 5.4 percent COLA or take this opportunity to cleverly get out of the high cost of pandemic catch up inflation by officially agreeing to a 3 percent annual COLA in 2022 and every year inflation continues to run between 2 and 3 percent as it has since 1980. This would set precedence for $10 an hour minimum wage in 2022 that is legislated to automatically increase 3 percent annually under 29USC206(a)(1)(D).

    Furthermore, Congress is playing children’s games with petty and inadequate capital gains and other taxes on the rich, that give the illusion that there would be a less than $400,000 loophole for the payroll tax, before everyone was counted and then the poor were relieved of the tax burden if it would be more enriching than receiving the benefits of their contributions. Besides, negotiating the annual 3 percent COLA, the true test of whether or not Acting Commissioner Kililo Kijakazi, is as spineless as the back quacking disability questionnaire sending local SSA bureaucrats and national 2020 payroll tax cheating actuaries (+/-14% overestimate), is if her Annual SSI Report proposes to close the OASDI tax loophole to tax the rich and state employees by repealing Sec. 230 of the Social Security Act 42USC430 and legislating an SSI Trust to end child poverty by 2024 and all poverty by 2030.

  4. EARL

    We need rent control people that are on social security and disability we do not make that much rent is going up too high mobile home parts are going up to high I got a $20 raise last year on my Social Security rent went up $60 what about the next time we need rent control for people are on social security and disability

    • Earl

      We need rent control and Nevada

  5. Herman T.

    I have 5 children that I am caring for. Their mother is terminal and has been on SSDI for the last ten years. And I’needing to know how to keep their benefits coming in after their mother passed.

    • Vonda

      Hi Herman, thank you for using our blog. If the children already receive benefits on their mother’s record, their benefit will automatically convert to survivor benefits after we receive the report of death. Typically, the funeral director notifies us of an individual’s passing by contacting the local Social Security office.

      Check out our Factsheet on How Social Security Can Help When a Family Member Dies for more details.

      • Christina t.

        Help please i dont understand how yall can take my entire check for an over payment when im alowed to work but i didnt get anything in the mail stating you was going to take it and now im hungry and about to be homeless please help despratley in need

        • Patty

          Hi Christina. We are sorry to hear about your situation. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. Your local office will be able to assist you with your request to stop collection or consider a lesser withholding amount from your benefits. For more information and to learn about how to appeal an overpayment or ask to pay a lower rate of recovery, check out our Coronavirus web page under the Overpayments tab. We hope this helps.

  6. Michelle B.

    I wonder why it is so hard to get into an account and have your identity verified and submitting evidence and getting someone to discuss my case , and an ERE, and fair legal council , and fair judicial practices, being included in my decision making and healthcare , fair healthcare and diagnostics . Do they send lobbyist out on every case or is it just me ? Every single person involved in my claim seen and hidden are against my best judgement and the hippa and withdrawal of my first rep and second rep yet they are allowed to do whatever they want to sabotage me because they all are related and or grew up together. The coincidences are unfathomable actually .Why is it hard for some people to have equality? I never knew just how bad it actually was until this abuse of power took place and the corruption surrounding my case is real. When will it stop ? How much more time and money to keep one person from equal rights will be wasted. Enough for 100 at least ball park figure .People watch out for your legal counsel and healthcare as they may be lobbyist against you. If it feels shady I beg you to check in to it. Because my roommate thinks I’m letting him put my kid in foster care and stealing my SSI benefits to control me . This is why there are domestic violence cases on the rise , people are robbing disabled people of their rights all the way around. I’m so sorry for us, I even read someone making fun of c paps and other studies and they were retired and they are also Republican. Wake up everyone the people who are trying to keep us poor are the ones infringing on your civil rights and liberties. Please people. I’ve begged for a really long time so many agencies I lost count. In the age of covid everything is more accessible to everyone but a select few , we are the outcasts the ones that are hated on. If you think they dont like you then you are right. Bc everything online is easier now. But not for me for sone reason that nobody will address.

  7. Hospitals &.

    My dad recently retired at 70 1/2 and after some back quack on the disability questionnaire of teh local office received my child share. He went to law school for a year or two in the Netherlands before being naturalized. My mom is a deadbeat doctor who uses my last name she should have divorced decades ago. She recently went off the deep end with her second divorce, has never paid her children anything more than $20, the youthful employment doesn’t count because she retaliated so violently against my bout with her DEA divorce related severe mental illness that must be quickly washed off with water, recent $100 doesn’t count due to her enhanced propensity to poison the pay. She has been filed for debarment, but Oregon makes harbor and concealment of terrorists their judges, my mom helps to unconventionally arm. Most of all she refuses to pay me my child share of her retirement, even if she retires. My mom is a deadbeat.

    I am therefore requesting $2,400 to audit the coronavirus counterfeited federal budget, be nominated Public Trustee fore $2,000 a month and scout out the Hospitals & Asylums marathon in October and November 2021 in Washington DC pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act under 31CFR§6.4(b)(1), 5USC§504, 24USC§422 and 28USC§1821 as presented in the Fee to Defund the American Jobs Plan and Audit COVID-19 Booger Gold for Possible Devaluation. Hospitals & Asylums HA-12-9-21 http://www.title24uscode.org/dot22.pdf

  8. Dee

    What qualifies as a person having limited English proficiency qualifying for Social Security benefits?

    • Patty

      Hi Dee. Thanks for using our blog. Social Security pays disability benefits to people if they have a medical condition that has prevented them from working or is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months. We use the same five-step process to make a decision on each application. You may find our listing of impairments useful. We hope this helps.

    • Jenni K.

      Dee, I have to ask… How would anyone at all consider that a disability? My grandmother came from Poland in the early 50’s and couldn’t speak English. She put herself through college and then opened her own beauty salon. She worked so very hard, until the day she passed.
      There are so many people that wish they could work but their bodies are broken, so they are awarded disability. Please do not use not being able to speak English as a disability, that is just using the system in so many wrong ways!!!

  9. Robert T.

    Hello, are you looking for extra money? Try paid surveys and other online jobs. All is easy and free.


  10. JAMIE B.


    • Vonda

      Hi Jamie, thanks for using our blog. If you’re receiving monthly benefits on a parents record, your benefit amount is based on their average lifetime earnings.  

      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. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for more information. We hope this is helpful.

    • Chuck R.

      Find a county with low rental rates. I moved to a county where a studio costs $550.00 per month. The same studio in San Diego county would cost over $1,000.00 per month.

      I then signed up for, and after a year, got on section 8. My rent is now $248.00 per month.

      Be proactive and find a way to make it in today’s economy. You might find that after two or three years your whole financial outlook will be much brighter.

      It works for me, I hope everyone experiencing financial difficulties follows my advice. It has the potential of making life more than just surviving. It could give you options you currently do not have, like going to a movie, or even going out on a date to a restaurant on occasion. That dating thing has certainly cheered me up.

      • Adria A.

        I understand the high cost is eliminating most of us from living in the US. I moved to Mexico and the rent, utilities and food are a lower cost than the US. Medical is much lower than the US. I find that my living expenses are about one third of what they were and I have a lovely home, all the food I need, pets ad their upkeep and never wish I had more money. I can easily afford what I want and live a high quality of life in Mexico. Also it is very safe especially in border cities and near border crossings. Only problem is speaking the language, but there are things to buy that help with that. Been here 9 years and could would never consider returning to the US I am a senior and have no fear here, do not have to lock my doors day and night etc.

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