Social Security Disability – Benefits for Disabled Adult Children

SSDI Benefits for Disabled Adult Children based on the eligibility for Social Security Benefits of a parent. Joseph W. Segraves, Attorney at Law – Atlanta, Georgia


An adult who became disable before the age of 22 years may qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits based on the benefits eligibility of one of his parents. This is frequently necessary when a serious disability occurs to a younger individual who has not yet worked enough to be eligible for SSDI benefits based on his/her own work record.

This is sometimes referred to as an “adult disabled child” being eligible for SSDI benefits or as receiving “child’s benefits”. This can be a little confusing since that is not really the basis of the qualification. This situation involves an adult (i.e. over 18 years of age) who is a disabled individual, and that disability began before the individual reached the age of twenty-two (22) years of age. The eligibility is based on the fact that the parent was/is qualified for or receiving Social Security benefits.

Eligibility for Benefits:

The requirements are as follows:

•1. The claimant must be disabled according to the SSA’s adult disability requirements;

•2. The disability must have manifested itself before the claimant became 22 years of age;

•3. The parent must have paid Social security taxes into the Social Security system for the required number of quarters (generally 20 quarter credits within the 10 years prior to disability;

•4. The parent of the claimant must be dead, permanently disabled or receiving retirement benefits;

•5. Must be unmarried; and,

•6. Must not be substantially gainfully employed (generally cannot earn more than $1,120.00/month (by 2012 standard)).

Age at time of filing claim:

A disabled individual may begin receiving benefits based on being a “disabled adult child” at any age when the individual meets the above-described requirements. As an example, a 45 year old man who has been disabled since he was 17 years old, but he has been unable to qualify for SSDI because his father continued to work. When his father retires, he will be eligible to collect SSDI benefits.

Proof of disability:

A claimant for benefits based on being the disabled child of a parent who is eligible for Social Security benefits bears the burden of proving that he/she suffered from the disability prior to becoming 22 years of age. It is always important to document your disability by keeping your medical treatment records, school records, work records and any other documents which may help to establish the disability. Because the claim of being a “disabled adult child” may not be filed many years and until a parent retires or dies, it is critical to retain medical records from the onset date of the disability until the date the claim can be filed.

Eligibility for younger adults:

If you have worked before becoming disabled, you may be eligible for benefits based on your own work and Social Security tax payment history. A lower number of credits is required for younger adults to qualify for benefits. If you are under 24, then you only need to have earned 6 credits within the 3 years prior to the start of the disability. A young adult who is between 24 and 31 need only have worked one-half of the time since they turned 21 years of age.

SSI benefits:

Unlike SSDI benefits, eligibility for Supplemental Security Income benefits is based on need and not on qualifying by having worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system. If you do not qualify or do not yet qualify for SSDI benefits as a disabled adult child, then you can still file for SSI benefits.


An experienced attorney familiar with Social Security disability law can help you protect your rights and can help you get the benefits you deserve. We have the knowledge, experience and skill to assist you in dealing with the process of obtaining help from these Social Security benefits programs. We represent disabled individuals in SSA Disability claims throughout Georgia including Marietta, Dallas, Canton, Woodstock, Atlanta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Cartersville and other Georgia cities. Contact us today to discuss your situation and the benefits you are be entitled to receive.

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