How to Navigate the Complex World of Disabled Adult Child Benefits

disabled adult child benefits

It is a common thought that people are only eligible for disability benefits from Social Security when they are close to retirement age. 

But it is not the case, and Social Security also offers a benefit for anyone who becomes disabled before turning 22, called Disabled Adult Child Benefits

Understanding Disabled Adult Child Benefits

There are many benefits to adult child benefit programs. 

Studies have found that DAC can provide financial assistance for disabled people who cannot support themselves. Second, families can plan for the future and make better decisions regarding their child’s care and service.

Knowing about DAC can also help families find additional resources and help that could be valuable. For example, it can be beneficial for finding jobs and housing. It can also help in ensuring the child is treated fairly and gets deserving attention. 

The article will provide all the necessary details about Social Security benefits for adult children and how to apply for them.

Types of DACs

Many government aid programs are running and catering to the needs of certain disabled groups of individuals.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two crucial government benefit programs for adult child’s benefit.

The Social Security System is in charge of both of these programs.

Enrollment in either program depends on certain circumstances and on meeting distinct criteria. Benefits are only available to those who cannot work due to long-term sickness or disability.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, about 13% of children below 18 received disability benefits, whereas 56% of those 18–54 years of age received benefits in 2022

Supplemental security income beneficiaries by age

1- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a federal program that benefits disabled adult children and is supported by payroll taxes.

Who Can Receive Adult Child SSDI Benefits?

To be eligible for SSDI benefits, one must be at least 18 years old and have a disability that began before they turned 22. Additionally, any parent’s work records prove they have paid into the SSDI program long enough to be guaranteed.

Suppose they are alive and receiving their social security retirement benefits. In that case, an adult child will be eligible for up to 50% of their benefit amount or up to 75% if the parent has passed away.

Benefits and payment amounts

An adult child who receives SSDI benefits based on the parent’s work record is entitled to a maximum monthly award of $1,371 as of 2023, and the sum is subject to yearly inflation adjustments and may increase or decrease.

After receiving SSDI payments for two years, adult children may be eligible for Medicare, a government-run health insurance program that helps with medical costs.

In some states, the program also provides incentives such as a Work Period, an Extended Period of Eligibility, a Ticket to Work, a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Vocational Training.

2- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is a government program run by the Social Security Administration that gives financial assistance to low-income disabled children.

Who Can Receive Adult Child SSI Benefits?

The following requirements must be completed for an adult child to qualify for SSI.

  • The applicant must be 18 or older and have a disability that fits the Social Security Administration’s criteria.
  • They must be unmarried (or married to someone who receives SSI).
  • The income and resources must be below the SSI limits ( less than $934 a month).

Benefits and payment amounts

The average monthly benefit will depend on many factors but can go up to $1470.

SSI can be used as proof of disability when applying for and receiving SSDI, as it offers more generous monthly payments along with Medicare.

SSI recipients may be eligible for other benefits such as food assistance, housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), education through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), vocational training, legal aid services, and employment support.

Differences between SSDI and SSI benefits

Both programs help people with disabilities but in different ways. Such as,

Eligibility Requirements

SSDI pays benefits to those who have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes, while Supplemental Security pays benefits based on financial need.

Disability Determination

The process for determining disability is identical for both programs. Still, SSDI benefits evaluate an adult child’s inability to perform a substantial gainful activity (SGA), while SSI considers the inability to attain a certain income threshold.

Source of Funding

SSDI receives funding from payroll taxes deposited into the Social Security Trust Fund, whereas SSI receives funding from general U.S. income tax revenues.

Benefit amount

The parent’s work history and average lifetime earnings determine SSDI benefit amounts. 

SSI provides all recipients with social security benefits at the same federal benefit amount. States can supplement SSI benefits with additional funds.

Eligibility for the Disabled Adult Child Benefit (DAC)

Someone disabled before age 22 and disabled as an adult is called a disabled adult child.

To be considered a disabled adult child according to the law, one must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18 or older and can be an adopted child, stepchild, grandchild, or stepgrandchild.
  • Have a disability that began before age 22
  • Must not be married.
  • The adult child must meet Social Security’s definition of “disability” for an adult.
  • Either parent was getting Social Security benefits or died while eligible for it.

The Application Process

Applying to receive social security benefits can be carried out in the following steps

  1. To get the most from your benefits, gather as much documentation as possible before filing your claim, such as your parent’s earnings, birth, educational, and marriage certificates. You may find a complete list of possible supporting paperwork on the SSI website. 
  2. You may apply for Social Security benefits online by browsing their website ( or, phone (1-800-772-1213), or in a local Social Security Administration office. You may choose whatever method is convenient for you.
  3. Fill out the form provided to you correctly and to the best of your ability. Make sure to give all the information asked for, like your medical background and your parent’s social security numbers and work records. 
  4. You may need to fill out additional forms to explain your disability and how it affects your ability to work.  
  5. Once the form is filled out, submit it to your officer. The SSA will then assess your submitted data and make a decision.
  6. If the application is accepted, one will qualify for disability benefits. However, if your application is rejected in any case, don’t give up hope; you can appeal the decision.

After you apply:

The filing process can take anywhere from a few months to a year, so it is essential to be patient and stay up-to-date with the Social Security Administration.

After your waiting period, you will receive your first benefit payment. This means you would receive your initial payment in the sixth month after your disability began.

Managing Adult Child Disability Benefits

You are required by law to report changes that could affect your eligibility for disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if you receive Social Security benefits.

These changes must be reported after the end of the month they occurred, ten days at the maximum. All the changes can be reported online on the website or by toll-free phone (1-800-772-1213).

However, suppose no changes occur in the disability. In that case, SSA will still periodically reevaluate the medical condition(s) to see whether disabled adult children still qualify for disability benefits under the Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

The law requires medical CDRs to be done at least once every three years. If a medical problem is not expected to improve, the review will occur every five to seven years.

What People Have to Say

supplemental security income vs social security disability insurance

Karen Muriello explains in a small video the eligibility criteria for receiving adult child benefits.

In the above video, Jasmine, an autistic adult child, shares her journey of applying for SSDI benefits and her medical and psychological evaluation. She was first rejected, but after re-evaluating her record, she was later granted benefits.


Despite potential challenges and things to think about, Social Security disability benefits may be a lifeline for those who rely on them financially. 

Read all here about what other conditions can help you qualify for disability benefits.

Also, reaching out for support and information is a decisive move that can lead to receiving the benefits and assistance you are legally entitled to. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need clarification about any element of the procedure, feel free to seek expert help.