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Adult Child

For the purposes of Social Security disability benefits, an “adult child” is:

  • a disabled person over the age of 18
  • who became disabled before the age of 22
  • and draws disability benefits as a survivor or dependent under the work record of a parent or guardian.

In order for an adult child who was disabled before the age of 22 to be eligible to receive “child benefits” under a parent or guardian’s work record, the parent or guardian must:

  • Be deceased
  • Receive Social Security retirement benefits
  • Receive Social Security disability benefits

Many children under the age of 18 get disability benefits, but in order for a child to continue to draw child benefits after the age of 18, he or she must:

  • Qualify for disability under the determination guidelines used with adults
  • Still be in elementary or high school, if they are age 19
  • Have become disabled before the age of 22
  • Be unmarried

Disabled adult children can hold a number of familial relationships to the parent or guardian under whose record they draw benefits. Adult children, can under certain circumstances, include:

  • Birth children
  • Adopted children
  • Stepchildren
  • Grandchildren
  • Step-grandchildren

It is also important to note that many disabled children are able to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits once they reach adulthood. SSI does not require a work history or a dependent benefit status. In other words, disabled children that reach adulthood may still have some benefits available to them, even if they cannot qualify as an adult child under the record of a parent or guardian.

In some cases, adult children can receive SSI benefits of their own and also get additional benefits under the work record of a deceased, disabled, or retired parent or guardian.