Category Archives: Disability

Social Security Benefits for Disabled Adult Children

Did you know that if you are a disabled adult, your parents’ eligibility for Social Security might be able to help you? If you aren’t able to work because of a severe disability or illness, you may qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance program under a parent’s earnings record.

Like everything involved with the Social Security disability program, the rules are specific. In the case of disabled adults seeking disability benefits through a parent’s record, the first qualifier is this: The disability had to begin before age 22.

To understand how it all works, first some background about Social Security:

  • The Social Security Disability Insurance program protects workers who are severely injured or sick by providing income when they can no longer work.
  • It also protects their families by providing auxiliary benefits for their children and provides survivors’ benefits for children of workers who have died.
  • The amount of the child’s benefit is based on the earnings record of the parent, who must have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security and paid into the system through payroll taxes.

Normally, payments to children will stop when they are no longer minors, at age 18. However, under certain circumstances, benefits will continue for children who were disabled before age 22 and were dependent on their parents.

If you are a disabled adult who might qualify for Social Security benefits under your parent’s work record, I urge you to learn more. This is an important benefit for people who became disabled before they even could begin a career or job.

As mentioned above, the amount of a worker’s Social Security benefits, both for retirement and in case of disability, is based on averages of what was earned during working years. To be eligible at all, workers also will need to have worked and paid Social Security payroll taxes for at least 10 years.

Anyone who is disabled before age 22 is very unlikely to meet these requirements, so it’s fortunate a parent’s work record may be able to help.

Again, Social Security has specific requirements that are strict and you will need to fall under its guidelines in order to qualify. And like anyone who claims to be disabled and applies for benefits, you also will be required to prove your disability as defined by Social Security regulations.

Here are details for disabled adult children whose applications are accepted under a parent’s work record:

  • If you filed an application for SSI, the program to help elderly, blind or disabled people with little or no income, you may be eligible to receive retroactive disability benefits back to the date of your original SSI filing. For this to happen, the SSI application must still be open and not have been adjudicated.
  • Didn’t file for SSI? You still will be eligible for retroactive disability payments for the twelve months prior to your application for disability benefits, or six months prior if your parent is deceased. Also, you will receive retroactive payments for the time period when your application was being reviewed.
  • Your parent must have paid in enough Social Security payroll taxes so that the family maximum benefit amount is greater than the parent’s monthly benefit alone, unless the parent is deceased.
  • If your parent is still living, you will receive up to 50 percent of your parent’s monthly benefit amount. If your parent is deceased, you will receive 75 percent.
  • Upon marriage, you are no longer eligible for benefits under a parent’s work record and payments cease.
  • Like anyone who qualifies for Social Security disability payments, you will be eligible for Medicare after 24 months.

The availability of benefits for disabled adult children – and what’s required to qualify – is an area of Social Security that many practitioners don’t know about. It’s advisable to consult with an experienced attorney. At the law office of Jeanne Coleman, we have handled Social Security disability cases for more than 25 years.


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