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Disabled Adult Child Benefits

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

When to begin receiving Social Security Benefits is a question for many adults as they approach retirement age. For many folks the decision is based on the different cash benefits available from age 62 to full retirement age. If a person starts receiving benefits at 62, their benefit amount will be lower than the full retirement age benefit. If a person waits until they are 70, their benefit amount will be higher than the full retirement age amount.

For a person with a child with disabilities, the decision of when to begin receiving Social Security has an added wrinkle.

This is because adults with disabilities may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability payments based on the work record of a parent. These payments are often higher than SSI payments.

How much are payments?

An individual who qualifies can receive 50% of his/her parent’s retirement or disability payment while the parent is alive and can receive 75% of the parent’s retirement after the death of the parent. These are called Disabled Adult Child Benefits. (It is possible for a person to receive benefits based on a parent, adoptive parent, or stepparent and in some cases a grandparent or step grandparent.)

How does a person qualify for Disabled Adult Child Benefits?
  • The person must be 18 years or older.

  • The person must be unmarried (although when two disabled adult children get married, benefits can sometimes continue).

  • The person must be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration.

  • The person's disability must have started before he or she reached the age of 22.

  • The person must not have participated in substantial gainful activity or SGA. The amount the Social Security Administration considers substantial earnings changes every year, but the maximum amount a disabled person can make in 2021 is $1,350 per month. (Even when a person has earned over this limit, many times they can still qualify if the Social Security Administration accepts set offs to the earnings.)

More information about benefit amounts can be found here:

Social Security Retirement Benefits:

Starting Your Retirement Benefits Early:



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