Social Security Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits

I enjoy reading attorney Paul Nidich’s blog Nidich on Anything. Paul’s knowledge nicely dovetails with my own. When there is an area I am uncertain about, I check to see what Paul has written.

A while ago, Paul wrote a nice article about Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits.

I did a search for “Disabled Adult Child” last night. On one of the web sites, the “expert” writing about the DAC benefit had the “disabled before age ___” incorrect. In speaking about special needs trusts and attending other’s presentations on special needs trusts, I find that few lawyers are aware of the DAC benefit, and, of course, fewer people in the disability community are aware of the benefit.

Disabled Adult Child is a Social Security program for adults who became disabled before the age of 22. The main benefit of this benefit program is that is allows the adult child to receive benefits based on the parent’s earnings record, which may mean more benefits than the child would otherwise be entitled to.

DAC benefits may also be a better option than Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Under SSI, a spouse’s income, an inheritance, or a law suit settlement may make the individual ineligible for benefits and force Social Security to suspend or terminate benefits.

However, under DAC, these sources of (non-employment) income are not considered.

How do you qualify for DAC?

Here is what Social Security says:

An adult disabled before age 22 may be eligible for child’s benefits if a parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits. We consider this a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.

We make the disability decision using the disability rules for adults.

The “adult child”-including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild, grandchild, or step grandchild-must be

  1. unmarried,

2) age 18 or older, and

3) have a disability that started before age 22.

Click here for more information Social Security about DAC benefits. Read the rest of Paul’s article hereUpdate: unfortunately Paul has taken down his site, so I have removed the links.

  • Martina

    Nidich on Disabled Adult Child Benefits.

  • Lili Cahlon

    This is a question rather than a comment:

    Can an adult child qualify for benefits under a step-parent's earning record?

    Thank you,

    Lili Cahlon
    Oak Park MI

  • linwood davenport

    if i did not get a aproval or denial at the alj hearing what are the aproval chances

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Without having been at your hearing (to get a feel for which way the judge is leaning) it is impossible to say. Just because an ALJ does not rule at the hearing does not mean s/he is likely to approve or disapprove your case.

    Good luck!

  • Laura

    My problem is that I have been married twice. I was disabled from age 3 and another disability at 12 and have recieved SSi before. I have made 4000.00 in my life and am 47 now. I can't work no matter how much I try. After my father died my SSI stopped because I inherited some money. He was a surgeon. Is anything possible to help me? Everyone at the SS office says I don't qualify because I'm married. Is this true? Disabled people can't get married? I wanted to recieve child's benefits.
    thanks for your time. Laura

  • Laura

    Hi Tomas, Thanks for your reply. If I am married am I ineligble for child's benefits on my father's record? SSI is impossible because my husband does make too much money.
    Thanks, Laura

  • Laura

    Yes Definitely, I was almost deaf and had bipolar disorder before age 12. I can still find some of my doctors and my parent's friends to give the information. If I could do that, does it matter that I'm married?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Dear Laura,

    Thanks for your comment!

    Regarding the inheritance, you should check out: “SSI, Settlements/Inheritance, and Special Needs Trusts”

    Concerning getting married, SSA does not stop your benefits just because you got married, but they do consider the spouse's income and assets IF you are on SSI (supplemental security income):
    See “Social Security Says My Husband/Wife Earns Too Much For Me To Get SSI”

    I hope these articles help!

    I wish you the very best.
    – Tomasz

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hmm, so you are asking whether you could be eligible for Disabled
    Adult Child benefits?

    That's tricky. As the article says, you would have to prove that your
    disability began before age 22. Since you are now 47, that would mean
    proving that you met the Social Security standard of disability more
    than 25 years ago.

    Do you think there is enough evidence available to prove that?

  • TomaszStasiuk


    To answer your question, I am not aware of any impact a claimant's
    marriage would have on that claimant's eligibility for Disabled Adult
    Child benefits.

    Here's a link to a Social Security page discussing Disabled Adult
    Child benefits and what you need to prove.

    Please note that this is general information only and legal advice.

    I wish you the very best.

  • mg

    Me and my sister both have been disabled since childhood. Is there only so much dac money available? Would I get more dac, if she don't get dac? Also, would this effect any children under 18 that might be getting social security on our dad's work history?

  • mg

    Me and my sister both have been disabled since childhood. Is there only so much dac money available? Would I get more dac, if she don't get dac? Also, would this effect any children under 18 that might be getting social security on our dad's work history?

  • Marygarcia

    i am a mother loosing her child ssi benifits because i make too much according to the ssi office i dont care about the money but just the medical benifit i am at my wits feel that because of my income my daughter who has autism is loosing her benifit is there anything i can do to save her from loosing her benifit she is only 7yrs . help please

  • Pingback: Social Security Disability Benefits for Children | Colorado Social Security Law()

  • Pingback: Child SSI cases after 18th birthday | Colorado Social Security Law()

  • Rjpashuck

    I have a 43 year old down Syndrome son who has been on SSI ($618/month).  I have just been informed that he is now eligible for DAC (up to $1116/month) because I am now drawing Social Security ($1683)/month.  My son lives with his mother (we’re divorced) and I pay $1000/month “child support”, $100/month supplemental medical coverage, and 75% of all uncovered medical/dental expenses.  My son works for ARC labor force doing lawn maintenance; He makes about $2000/year.

    Will my child support and his working impact how much DAC he will get?

    • TomaszStasiuk

      He is only eligible for DAC now? Not before? DAC requires proving disability prior to age 22.  

      It could be that SSA is considering this now because of your SSA benefits:

      However children’s benefits after age 18-19 still require DAC eligibility which might have made him eligible for DAC, well, for years. 

      I can’t advise you, it just sounds odd. 

      I can’t address the child support and ARC issues. Work for an agency that specifically provides jobs for disabled individuals raises issues of non-competitive work and subsidies.

      I encourage you to contact Social Security to address your specific circumstances. You may also want to ask whether your son would have been eligible for DAC before you began to receive SSA benefits. I suspect you may get an answer of, “yeah, if someone had applied for him.”  That’s just a guess. 

      Note: I’m focusing on the individual facts more than I usually do. So, please keep in mind the disclaimer: This is not legal advice and does not form an attorney client relationship. 


    I am a 26 year old woman and I am disabled. I applied for DAC and SSI and just had the hearing June 2nd 2011 (this year). I went with Binder and Binder. I know you have to be disabled before the age of 22 to qualify for the DAC.  My disability date was Feb. 2004. Unfortunately, Binder and Binder dropped the ball with trying to gather hospital records which would prove that I was disabled before the age of 22. The doctor that was present at my hearing told me that since he didn’t have any records of my hospitals stays that he was not willing to go back to Feb. 2004 for my onset disability date. He offered June 2009 and my lawyer said that if I took that date I would be approved. What I missed was that in 2009 I was over the age of 22 and I’m not sure if my lawyer caught that either. They said I was approved, but didn’t mention if I was approved for the DAC and SSI or just one of them. I am following up with lawyer but she still hasn’t called me back.

    My question to you is even though my disability date for the DAC was changed to June 2009 (when i was older then 22) will I still be qualified for that benefit since the judges ruling was favorable? Or do you think since I was over the age limit that its a flat out no for the DAC and I may need to try and appeal or go through this whole process again just to get that benefit?

    • TomaszStasiuk

      I have to be careful in how I answer this since I cannot provide legal advice in comments. So, please note that I can only address this topic generally and not your specific set of circumstances.

      An individual has to meet the requirement of DAC eligibility to receive those benefits. If an individual amends his or her onset date to *after* after 22, I do not see any way such an individual could receive DAC on that claim. If there is co-claim for SSI, if the case is approved, I would anticipate, it would only be for the SSI portion of the claim.

      It is conceivably possible to withdraw an amended onset date (if the decision has not been issued) and request a supplemental hearing. However, it is a bit like pulling the emergency brake on a subway. A lack of evidence of disability prior to age 22 continues to be a problem. The SSI portion of the case might get denied. Simply put, everything goes flying in the air. 

  • Domain Registration India

     I found this article great for information and i learn completely new information trough this post about  DAC.

  • Greg

    My 18 year old is in the process of being classified as a DAC. I know her payment is ‘based’ on my work record. I draw $1421 a month SSD. Does she get a % of that or the same amount?
    Your site is great. Thank you.

    • Noah

      My son is a disabled adult. I’m currently paying child support for him. He has already turned 18. He receives ssi and works 25 hours a week as a sacker. My ex is taking me back to court for adult child disability support. Does anyone know what the percentage for this kind of support is. Is it the same as child support? Is his income considered? Anything will help.

  • Pingback: Twitted by PattiDudek()

  • Baker

    Why does the person have to be unmarried? That is ridiculous if you find someone you want to marry and you’ll lose your benefits if you do. Government is controlling your personal life. You can’t help who you fall in love with.

  • Lizzard

    I have a son who was disabled before the age of 22 and is receiving Social Security disability payments based on my earnings record. He has now fathered a child. Is that child eligible for any benefits? My son has no earnings record of his own.