Disabled Adult Child in Social Security Disability Benefits

If you’re a disabled adult child or in case you have a disabled adult child, the child might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It’s necessary to know what the eligibility requirements are and how to apply for these benefits so that you can make certain your child or loved one has the resources to receive good care.

When a Child Becomes Disabled Before Age 22

A disabled child or young adult whose income is low enough to qualify for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) can apply for SSI, but Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits can be higher.

Luckily, SSDI is occasionally available for a disabled child of a worker who has paid Social Security taxes in the Social Security system, even if the child has not yet paid Social Security. This can be called SSDI for “adults disabled since childhood,” although the handicap sometimes doesn’t begin until maturity (between age 18 and 22).

Beneficiaries under this application are often called “adult handicapped kids” because they collect Social Security disability benefits depending on their parents’ work record. A disabled adult child can collect SSDI when a parent, adoptive parent, or stepparent receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits (SSDI) or has earned enough Social Security credits before dying to qualify for those advantages. Sometimes, a grandchild or even a step-grandchild is eligible for these benefits (if there isn’t any surviving parent and the grandparent or step-grandparent is collecting retirement or disability benefits).

The handicapped adult “child” must meet the adult definition of disability. This is called a “child’s benefit” since it uses the parents’ earning record, not because the person needs to be young. In fact, when a parent doesn’t begin collecting Social Security benefits until late in life, the disabled adult “child” can be eligible for benefits.

Eligibility Requirements for a Disabled Adult Child

There are several eligibility requirements for a disabled adult child to collect benefits:

  • The individual must be 18 years or older.
  • The person must be unmarried (although when two handicapped adult children get married, benefits can sometimes continue).
  • The individual must fit into the Social Security Administration’s (SSs) adult definition of disabled (and the impairment needs to have lasted 12 months, be expected to last for 12 weeks, or be expected to be fatal).
  • The person’s disability must have started before he or she reached the age of 22.
  • The person must not have substantial income, known as “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA. The amount the Social Security Administration considers substantial income changes every year, but the maximum amount a non-blind handicapped person can make in 2016 is $1,130 per month.

Filing for Disability Benefits

A disabled adult child seeking SSDI benefits under a parents’ work record cannot file for benefits online. However, it will save time if you start the process by filling out the Adult Disability Report before you contact the SSA (to see the form, go to SocialSecurity.gov/applyfordisability). Next, contact the SSA at -LRB-800-RRB-772-1213 for an appointment at your local SSA office.

A claims examiner and medical advisor will jointly decide whether the disabled adult child has a handicap that matches or is equal to one about the SSA’s official List of Impairments, or even when the disability prevents the older child from performing work. To ascertain if the disabled adult child can execute work, the DDS will look at his or her skills and educational level, such as any post-secondary training the adult child might have received in college. A child who has received vocational training may not be eligible for benefits if they have a skill they can use for substantial gainful employment and they’re able to execute work that uses that skill. It is important in such cases to keep accurate medical and school records by teachers and other specialists involving any appraisal of the adult child’s abilities.

It will take several months to process your application. The good news is that benefits may be paid retroactively up to five months before the application was filed.

When an Adult Child Becomes Disabled After Age 22

An adult child who becomes disabled after age 22 must either have low enough income and assets to qualify for SSI or should rely on his or her own earnings record to accumulate credits.

While an adult needs some work history to be eligible for SSDI, young adults need fewer “credits” to qualify for SSDI benefits. A credit means three weeks of work where the individual earned at least $1,160; a person could earn four credits in one year. Most people need 20 credits made within the last 10 years to qualify for SSDI, but a young adult who is younger than 24 need to only earn six credits in the three years prior to the handicap. Young adults aged 24 to 31 need to have worked half the time since they turned 21. For instance, a young adult who becomes disabled at age 25 needs to have two years’ worth of credits, or eight credits, earned in the last four years. If you or someone you know was disabled after age 22 and you’ve got questions about SSDI eligibility, call the SSA.

SSI for a Disabled Child Turning Eighteen

Ordinarily, when children who get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits turn 18, they have to be reevaluated as adults in what is known as a redetermination, or an “age 18 redetermination.” How Social Security assesses mature applications for handicap is different than the way they evaluate children. Sometimes this could lead to a reduction of benefits, but Social Security will consider special concerns to guarantee fairness.

What If You Get Married?

If a disabled adult child receiving SSDI benefits gets married, in most situations, the benefits will stop. But if the disabled adult child marries another disabled adult child, the SSDI benefits may continue. For more information, contact the regional Social Security office.


It is important to note that according to SSA regulations, a child need not be the biological child of the qualifying parent. A stepchild, grandchild, and sometimes even step-grandchildren could qualify, provided the parent or grandparent under whom they qualify for SSD benefits was their legal guardian.

Since the method of qualifying for SSD benefits as an adult child might be affected by familial relationships, along with modifications in the parent or grandparent’s standing, it’s ideal to find help in submitting an SSD maintain as a DAC. A Social Security advocate or lawyer can help you navigate and better comprehend the whole program and inspection process, and may improve your odds of receiving rewards.

Read More: Social Security Disability Application Tips and Orientation