“Adult Disabled Child” Eligible if Disabled before Age 22

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. Social Security considers this a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.

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.

Example: A worker starts collecting Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. He has a 38-year old son who has had cerebral palsy since birth. The son will start collecting a disabled “child’s” benefit on his father’s Social Security record.

A child may collect SSI disability on its own in some cases, but these Adult Child benefits are more generous since they are based on the earnings record of a retired, disabled or deceased parent. 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.