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Exploring the Benefits of Social Security for Disabled Adult Children

In my many years of practice, I have found that not every parent is aware of all of the benefits to which their disabled child may be entitled.  Social Security has additional benefits available to Disabled Adult Children (DAC) who were found to be disabled prior to the age of 22.


In order to qualify for SSD as a DAC, you must be unmarried, at least 18 years old, and have become disabled before turning 22 years old. Adult children qualify for benefits under their parent’s Social Security eligibility. This means that the parent under whom they qualify must be:

  • deceased, or
  • receiving Social Security retirement benefits, or
  • receiving SSD benefits in order for the DAC to qualify to receive benefits as well.

SSA Review

The SSA reviews claims for adult children under the same general eligibility and medical eligibility criteria as they do with any other adult disability application. The only difference is the fact that the parents’ work credits are accounted for rather than the child’s in deciding if the child has sufficient contributions to the SSD fund to meet this portion of the general eligibility criteria for receiving disability benefits.

SSA Regulations

It is also important to note that according to SSA regulations, a child need not be a biological child of the qualifying parent. A stepchild, grandchild, and sometimes even step-grandchildren can qualify, provided the parent or grandparent under whom they qualify for SSD benefits was their legal guardian.

Not only is it important to make sure that your Disabled Adult Child has the proper advance directives or guardianship in order, but it is also just as important to discuss this child with the Social Security office when you apply for your retirement benefits.  This benefit could mean the difference between a highly restricted life under SSI rules and some flexibility under the SSD rules. They may have a little more independence and possibly more money to help them live monthly.

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