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Adult Child Social Security Disability Benefits

When an adult needs Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, his or her eligibility is assessed based on work history and/or family income and resources. When a child is disabled, on the other hand, the child doesn’t have his or her own work history to rely on. Instead, a child may qualify for benefits under a parent’s record or as a dependent of a parent.

At age 18, however, some of the rules change. First, a child may no longer be a dependent under the customary definition. Second, the child is no longer a child in the eyes of the law.

The Social Security Administration has specific rules for when an “adult child” may qualify for benefits under a parent’s record, and the SSA also has specific criteria for disabled adults. If a parent has concerns about a child’s continuing benefits or if a parent believes that a child is being unfairly denied benefits, then it is essential to speak with an experienced Kentucky SSD benefits lawyer.

The Frank Jenkins Law Office can help. To learn more, give us a call today at 859-389-9344 or fill out our online contact form.

Based in Lexington, we serve clients throughout Eastern Kentucky, including Berea, Georgetown, Nicholasville, Paris, Richmond, Versailles and Winchester. 

When is an Adult Child Eligible for SSD Benefits? 

A disabled child may be eligible for benefits under either his or her own work record or under a parent’s work record.

In order for a child to be eligible for benefits under a parent’s work record after turning 18:

  • The child must have a covered disability or impairment that began before age 22.
  • The child must meet the definition of “disabled” for adults. The SSA has a Listing of Impairments that is colloquially called “the blue book.” The blue book is divided into two parts, with one part devoted to child ailments and the other to adult disabilities. As a child transitions to adulthood, he or she will need to have a disability listed as an adult disability in the blue book and will need to show the requisite symptoms of that disability as defined in the blue book. If this is not the case, the child will have to prove that his or her condition is medically equivalent (or just as impairing and disabling) as the ailments and illnesses in the blue book.

A child may also obtain benefits on his own record if he does not qualify under a parent’s record. The child would need to have worked for a sufficiently long time to receive SSDI benefits. The amount of time required would vary, depending upon the child’s age at the time of becoming disabled. Many children who have been disabled since birth or whose disabilities began before age 18 will not meet the work requirements for SSDI benefits.

This doesn’t mean a child can receive no benefits. An adult child may still be eligible for SSI benefits, provided that the family has limited financial resources and income. These benefits, however, may not be as high as SSDI benefits available under a parent’s record. When possible, it is usually advisable for an adult child to try to obtain or continue to obtain disability benefits under a parent’s record as an adult child, rather than under his record as simply a disabled adult.

Obtaining Benefits for an Adult Child 

An adult child who was disabled before age 22 and who meets the criteria for disability should strongly consider applying for disability benefits under a parent’s record. The adult child designation may be given to adopted children and, in some cases, even to stepchildren or grandchildren, so the definition of who can qualify under a parent’s record is broad.

When completing a benefits claim, it is important that all relevant information be included. This information includes not just proof that the adult child was disabled before age 22 and should be eligible for benefits on a parent’s record, but also proof that the disability is sufficiently severe. Medical records from a qualified, licensed treating specialist who can provide details about the child’s disabling condition should be submitted with the benefits application. These records must show that the disability has lasted or will last for a year and that it meets the criteria set forth in the adult disability section of the blue book.

It is also important that the adult child not be engaged in substantial gainful activity at the time of applying. Substantial gainful activity is determined by the amount a child is making. If the child is working and earning more than $1,010 per month as of 2012, then he or she will not be eligible for adult child benefits.

Once the application is submitted, it can take several months for the approval or denial to be made by the SSA. Unfortunately, like all claims for Social Security disability benefits, claims made on behalf of or by an adult child are often denied initially. A Kentucky Social Security disability lawyer can assist parents in appealing a denial of benefits to ensure that the adult child receives or continues to receive the income needed to survive with a disabling condition.

Contact Our Kentucky Disability Lawyers about Your Legal Rights

For over 15 years, the Kentucky SSD lawyers at the Frank Jenkins Law Office have been successfully helping disabled individuals obtain the disability benefits they deserve. Your next step should be to contact us for a free case evaluation.

If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with a disability claim, or if you have questions about appealing a denied claim, contact a Kentucky Social Security Disability lawyer today at 859-389-9344 or use our online contact form.