How to Apply for Benefits as a Grandparent
If you’re a grandparent raising a child, it can be challenging to handle the extra expense. Even if you’re still working or are financially comfortable, the costs of education, medical care, food, clothing and college savings can be a lot to absorb. And if you’re on a fixed income, it may seem difficult to continue to meet your own needs and provide for the child, or children, you love.
In Georgia, more than 100,000 grandparents are the heads of households raising grandkids. Of these, more than 57 percent work, nearly 24 percent live in poverty and almost 27 percent have a disability. Fortunately, there are numerous benefits available for grandfamilies, depending on work history and financial need.
SSDI Benefits for Grandkids
For individuals with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, grandchildren may be eligible for auxiliary benefits. To receive auxiliary benefits:
- Kids must be under 18 and living with a grandparent before turning 18
- Their parents must be deceased or disabled
- The children must have received at least half of their financial support from their grandparent in the year before the grandparent became eligible for SSDI (or have been living with the grandparent from birth if they are under a year old)
If the grandparent has legally adopted the grandchild, then the child must be unmarried and under the age of 18.
For grandparents with special needs grandkids, auxiliary SSDI benefits may continue past age 18 if the child is considered disabled as became so before age 22.
Social Security survivor’s benefits may also be an option to grandchildren whose parents have passed away.
Public Benefits Available to Grandparents
In addition to SSDI auxiliary benefits, grandparents may qualify for other public benefits based on need. These include:
- Medicaid for kids
- State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Child Care and Parent Services (CAPS)
Many grandfamilies also use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to help cover some of the costs of raising a child. Assistance may come monthly or provide short-term help (allowing a grandparent to buy a new car seat or pay a bill).
Child-only TANF grants take the child’s income into account (usually child support payments or SSI payments. The national average for child-only TANF grants is about $8 per day. Family grants require the grandparents meeting Georgia income requirements and are only available for a limited period.
With so many potential programs available, all with their own requirements, it can be a challenge to determine what resources are available. It’s especially challenging when the grandchild has special needs and has his or her own benefits eligibility requirements and options. Some organizations focus specifically on this need: Project GRANDD (Grandparents Raising and Nurturing Dependents with Disabilities) helps with referrals, case management and support groups.
Speak With an Atlanta Elder Law Attorney
At Nadler Biernath, we know it can be tricky to work out benefits eligibility. We have experience handling all aspects of elder law and special needs law, positioning us to help you support your grandchildren. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.