Adults 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. This is considered 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, have a disability that started before age 22, and meet the definition of disability for adults.
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.
It is not necessary that the adult child ever worked. Benefits are paid based on the parent’s earnings record.
An adult child must not have substantial earnings. The amount of earnings Social Security considers “substantial” increases each year. In 2019, this means working and earning more than $1,220 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 the Social Security publication “Working While Disabled: How We Can Help.”