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Can an adult be eligible for child disability benefits?

Can an adult be eligible for child disability benefits?

An adult disabled before the age of 22 may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if one of his or her parents is deceased, receiving retirement benefits, or receiving disability benefits. The Social Security Administration considers this type of benefit to be a child’s benefit because it is paid on the Social Security earnings of the recipient’s parent.

In order to qualify for child disability benefits as an adult, a Disabled Adult Child (DAC) must:

  • Be over the age of 18, and
  • Have become disabled before the age of 22, and
  • Be eligible to receive benefits under the work history of an eligible parent.

Typically the DAC cannot be married to qualify for disability benefits as an adult child, however there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if two disabled adult children get married, both individuals will continue to be eligible for adult child disability benefits. It is important to note that, in order for an individual to qualify as an adult child, the parent of the adult child must be:

  • Deceased, or
  • Receiving disability benefits, or
  • Receiving Social Security Old Age (retirement) benefits.

Disabled adult children can potentially qualify for disability benefits under the work history of a parent, or in some cases a grandparent. An adult child can potentially receive benefits under the Social Security earnings of one of the following:

  • A biological parent, or
  • An adoptive parent, or
  • A stepparent, or
  • An adoptive grandparent, or
  • A grandparent who is otherwise the adult child’s legal guardian.

In some cases, disabled adult children can qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits under their own earnings history, but it can sometimes be more beneficial for the child to apply for “child benefits” under the earnings record of a parent instead. This is especially true when the disabled adult child has a limited work history or worked primarily in low wage positions.

The amount of disability benefits the adult child could potentially receive each month under the parent’s earnings history could be substantially higher than the amount of the monthly benefit check he or she would receive based on his or her own work history.