Can Children with Disabilities Receive Social Security Benefits?

Benefits For A Disabled Child

A child who is a minor may be considered disabled, but the SSA doesn’t take into account the child’s disability when determining if they qualify for benefits as your dependent. The child’s benefits typically end at age 18 but are extended to age 19 if they are a full-time student in an elementary or high school or are disabled. For a child with a disability to earn benefits on your account after age 18, the following rules need to be met:

  • The disabling condition must have started before age 22, and;
  • The child needs to meet the definition of disability for adults.

Adults Disabled Before Age 22

An adult who became disabled before reaching age 22 can qualify for child’s benefits if a parent is deceased or begins getting retirement or disability benefits. We recognize this as a child’s benefit since it is paid based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record. The “adult child” must be unmarried, older than 18 and have a disabling condition that began before age 22. An adult child can be an adopted child, stepchild, grandchild, or step-grandchild.

What if the adult child never worked?

It isn’t required that the adult child has worked. Benefits are given based on the parent’s earnings.

What if the adult child is currently working?

An adult child cannot have substantial earnings. The amount of earnings that are defined as ‘substantial’ goes up every year. In 2018, substantial earnings meant working and receiving more than $1,180 a month. Certain expenses the adult child receives from work can be excluded from their earnings.

What if the adult child is already receiving SSI benefits?

An adult child who is already getting Supplemental Security Income benefits is recommended to verify if the benefits may be awarded from a parent’s earnings record. Higher benefits can be payable, and entitlement to Medicare is possible.

What if the adult child is already receiving disability benefits on his or her own record?

An adult child who’s currently getting disability benefits is still recommended to find out if benefits can be based on a parent’s earnings record. There’s potential for someone disabled since childhood to receive insured status on their own record and be entitled to increased benefits on a parent’s earnings record.

What if the parent never worked?

No benefits could be paid on the record of a parent who has never worked.

Can an application be completed online for disabled adult child’s benefits?

Currently, you are unable to apply for disabled adult child’s benefits online. If you want to submit an application for benefits, speak with Social Security as soon as possible by calling 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment. (If you are deaf or have trouble hearing, call the TTY number 1-800-325-0778.

If you hesitate, some potential benefits may be lost.If you can help speed up the application process by filling out an Adult Disability Report and bringing it to your appointment.

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