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Helping a disabled adult child with Social Security benefits

Many aging parents take care of their disabled children well into adulthood. These children often have little or no earnings which means they may not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (Title 2 benefits) on their own earnings. When they apply for Social Security disability, they are told they have not worked long enough (or do not have enough “quarters”) to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

This results in the children applying for Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, SSI has many restrictions, such as income and asset limits. This prevents parents or others from providing support for their adult children because it may risk their eligibility for SSI. The same happens if the adult children receive a gift, inheritance or settlement. It that case, it is important to look into the possibility of a special needs trust.

However, there is another disability program available under Social Security which may help. Social Security Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits allow an adult child to receive Disability Insurance benefits (Title 2 benefits) based on the parent’s contribution to Social Security. Also, the “adult child” can be an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild, grandchild, or step-grandchild.

Both the parents and the child have to meet several requirements for the child to be eligible for Disabled Adult Child benefits. The parent has to be either:

  • Deceased, or
  • Receiving Social Security retirement benefits, or
  • Receiving Title 2 Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (Supplemental Security Income benefits are not enough).

The child has to be

  • Over 18, and
  • Unmarried, and
  • Have a disability that started before age 22.

Note: the parent, the child has to meet all three of these requirements and have a parent who is either deceased, receiving Social Security retirement or Title 2 Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to qualify for disabled adult child benefits.

You can find more information about Social Security’s disabled adult child benefits program here and here.

Image provided by Public Domain Archive.

  • Angela Abrego

    Is it possible to take over my granddaughters ssi benifits if the mother ( my daughter) is incapacitated. She has developed severe mental disorders and is unable to make good decisions for my granddaughter. The problem is that my daughter believes that she okay.
    What do i need to do ?