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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 unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that started before age 22.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the adult child never worked?
It is not necessary that the adult child ever worked because benefits are paid on the parent's earnings record.
What if the adult child is currently working?
The adult child must not have substantial earnings. The amount of earnings we consider "substantial" increases each year. In 2008, this means working and earning more than $940 a month.
Certain expenses the adult child incurs in order to work may be excluded from these earnings. For more information about work and disability, refer to Working While Disabled--How We Can Help.
What if the adult child is already receiving SSI benefits?
An adult child already receiving SSI benefits should still check to see if benefits may be payable on a parent's earnings record. Higher benefits might be payable, and entitlement to Medicare may be possible.
What if the adult child is already receiving disability benefits on his or her own record?
An adult child already receiving disability benefits should still check to see if benefits may be payable on a parent's earnings record. It is possible for an individual disabled since childhood to attain insured status on his or her own record and be entitled to higher benefits on a parent's record.
What if the parent never worked?
No benefits would be payable on the record of a parent who never worked.
At this time you cannot apply for child's benefits online. If you wish to file for benefits for a child, contact Social Security immediately at
How do we decide if an adult "child" is disabled for SSDI benefits?
If a child is age 18 or older, we will evaluate his or her disability the same way we would evaluate the disability for any adult. We send the application to the Disability Determination Services in your state that completes the disability decision for us. For detailed information about how we evaluate disability for adults, see Disability Benefits (Publication No. 05-10029).
Last reviewed or modified Tuesday Jul 22, 2008