Establishing paternity so child will get SSDI auxiliary benefits?

Recently on a legal forum a user asked, “I recently found out a girlfriend I had dated a few years back had a child. I am not sure I am the child’s father, but if I am I would like to make sure I do right by him. I have recently started receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I am wondering what I need to do to ensure my child receives whatever part of my benefits he is due.”

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits overview

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a wage replacement program offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to claimants who have a severe physical or mental health condition and are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months.

What are SSDI auxiliary benefits?

Now, you mentioned you are currently receiving benefits. If this is the case, there is a good chance that certain members of your family may also qualify for what are termed auxiliary benefits.

If your child is eligible for auxiliary benefits this means they will collect a monthly payment based on your Social Security record- which means you have met the definition of disability as defined by the SSA and have earned sufficient work credits to be insured for SSDI benefits. The child is officially called an auxiliary beneficiary.

(Note: auxiliary benefits are only given if the disabled is receiving SSDI benefit. Supplemental Security Income or SSI does not provide auxiliary benefits to children).

Which dependents can receive SSDI auxiliary benefits?

So, when is your child eligible to receive auxiliary benefits? According to the SSA, children can receive SSDI auxiliary benefits if they are any of the following: a biological child, an adopted child, a stepchild, a grandchild (if the parent is not living) or a step grandchild (if no parent is living).

Given the information above it’s likely that the child will be eligible for SSDI auxiliary benefits on your work record. To ensure they receive benefits, however, you will have to establish paternity of the child.

What is paternity establishment?

Paternity is the process of determining who is the legal father of a child. Assuming you are not married to the mother of the child, even if you are the biological father, you are not considered the legal father and you have no rights or responsibilities to the child until you have established paternity. Although state laws vary, there are generally several ways to establish paternity.

  1. Signing a voluntary form called an Acknowledgment of Paternity (available from hospitals, local district child support offices, and local birth registrars). This should only be signed if there is no question about the identity of the biological father. If there is doubt, it’s recommended that a paternity test is first performed.
  2. Filing a court petition to have the court determine paternity. If a court order is filed you will have to submit to a DNA test to verify you are the father of the child.

Bottom Line:

To ensure your child receive SSDI auxiliary benefits you will need to legally establish paternity of the child.

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