When a Parent Retires, a Child with Disabilities Could Qualify for SSDI

When the parent of an adult with disabilities retires, the child may qualify for federal disability benefits, even if the child has never worked.

This benefit, known as the Disabled Adult Child program, allows the child of a retired, disabled or deceased parent to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments based on his parent's earnings record.  In order to qualify for benefits, the child must have developed his disability prior to turning 22 years old and he must also meet the federal government's adult definition of "disabled."

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who started to get benefits when they turned 18 will likely meet both of these requirements and therefore will probably qualify for Disabled Adult Child benefits without difficulty.  However, SSI beneficiaries who did not apply for benefits until after they turned 22 will have to prove to the Social Security Administration that their disabilities began when they were young, an often difficult process.  

Successful Disabled Adult Child applicants may receive SSDI benefits that are higher than their current SSI benefits, and after two years, they will become eligible for Medicare.  However, in a few cases, receipt of SSDI benefits could result in the loss of SSI benefits and the automatic Medicaid access that comes with SSI.  In those cases, beneficiaries may need to apply for Medicaid independently of the SSI process, which could be time-consuming and tricky.

If you are a parent of a child with disabilities and you are contemplating retirement, or if you are helping the child of a deceased or disabled parent, you should consult with your special needs planner to see if the child can qualify for additional benefits and to discuss the impact of those benefits on his overall special needs plan.

Article Last Modified: 10/02/2014