Can my adult child receive SSDI?

If you have an adult child who is disabled, he or she may be able to receive benefits if they meet certain requirements. If you have worked, your child can receive benefits under your Social Security earnings record.

A qualifying adult child includes adopted children but in some cases can also include stepchildren, grandchildren or step-grandchildren. Collecting your benefits on behalf of your child can begin when you retire or in the event you pass away.

Benefit requirements

In order for your disabled child to be eligible for benefits as an adult, the following must exist:

  • Your child, adopted child, stepchild, grandchild or step-grandchild must be unmarried.
  • He or she must have had a disability that began prior to turning 22.
  • Your child must meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disability for adults.

If your adult child is already receiving disability benefits under his or her own name, benefits under your name may still be possible which would entitle your child to higher benefits. If you child works, there are income caps in order to remain eligible but if he or she does not work it would not affect benefits under your name.

However, all benefits under your name require that you have worked long enough to satisfy the Social Security work credits requirement. If you have never worked, your child would not be entitled to benefits.

How does the Social Security Administration determine disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a number of factors they will use to determine if your child is disabled. The SSA will apply their disability standards the same way they do to determine any other adult's eligibility such as:

  • Your child cannot perform work he or she did before.
  • Your child will be unable to work or cannot adjust to other work because of the disability.
  • Your child's disability will last more than a year.

The SSA will also determine disability based on their list of disabling conditions. If your child's condition is not on the list, the SSA will determine if the disability claimed is comparable in severity to other medical conditions that are on that list.

Knowing which benefits you or your child may be entitled to can be daunting and the application process can be lengthy. However, if you speak to an attorney who is experienced with SSDI claims to discuss all the details as it relates to your circumstances, you can make an informed choice about your best course of action. 

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