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SSDI Eligibility For Disabled Adult Children: What You Should Know

Last updated: October 10, 2023

Navigating the world of disability benefits for adult children can be a daunting experience. This article aims to clarify the topic, covering everything from the definition of disabled adult children to the application and appeal processes for disability benefits. We discuss the causes and types of disabilities, various assistance programs available, and tips on managing benefits and services. 

By understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and what to do in case of a denied application, you'll be better equipped to help your loved ones secure the support they need. Disabled adult children have a disability that began before they turned 22. 

This disability can be physical, mental, emotional, or cognitive and must significantly impact their daily life and ability to work. Many disabled adult children may rely on support from family members, friends, and social services to manage their daily living and long-term needs.

Challenges Faced by Disabled Adult Children

Disabled adult children may face a variety of unique challenges throughout their life, including:

  • Access to education: Access to appropriate educational opportunities and resources can be difficult for disabled adult children. Services such as individualized education programs (IEPs) and special education resources can help, but they may not be available everywhere.

  • Employment: Finding a job and maintaining employment can be a significant challenge for disabled adult children due to various factors such as physical limitations, cognitive impairments, or social skills. Supported employment programs and vocational rehabilitation services can assist in finding and maintaining appropriate work environments.

  • Healthcare: Disabled adult children often have unique and long-term medical needs. Accessing medical services, specialized healthcare providers, or adaptive equipment can be challenging. Additionally, healthcare costs can cause financial strain on the individual and their family.

  • Housing: Finding accessible and affordable housing options can be tough, particularly for those who require specialized accommodations. Independent living may be ideal but not always attainable, making it necessary to explore various housing alternatives.

  • Financial Assistance: Disabled adult children may need support from government programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). They may also be eligible for various other financial assistance programs, but navigating the application and qualification process can be complicated.

Supporting Disabled Adult Children

Family members, friends, and professionals can support disabled adult children to help them achieve a higher quality of life. Some key areas of support include:

  1. Advocacy: Become an advocate by educating yourself on disability rights, accessing appropriate resources, and helping to address any barriers experienced by disabled adult children.

  2. Emotional support: Acknowledge their emotions, feelings, and needs. Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for them to express themselves.

  3. Assistance with daily tasks: Depending on their disability, disabled adult children may require help completing daily tasks such as cooking, personal care, and housekeeping. Offering assistance can make a significant difference in their life.

  4. Transportation: Mobility can be difficult for disabled adult children, and providing transportation options can enable them to participate in community activities and access essential services.

  5. Education and employment support: Encourage and support their pursuit of educational opportunities and employment by researching and connecting them to appropriate resources and support services.

Disabled Adult Child Benefits

There are various sources of financial assistance and benefits available to disabled adult children, including:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI benefits disabled adult children based on their parent's Social Security records. Eligibility is determined based on the severity of the disability and having a parent who is deceased, retired, or also receiving disability benefits.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a needs-based program for those with low income and limited resources who are elderly, disabled, or blind. Benefits are determined based on the disabled adult child's income and assets, and the amount can vary by state.

  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides healthcare coverage for low-income individuals, including those who qualify for SSI. Disabled adult children may be eligible for Medicaid based on their income and eligibility for SSI benefits.

  • Medicare: Disabled adult children eligible for SSDI benefits may also be eligible for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period. Medicare can provide access to healthcare services and prescription medications.

  • State vocational rehabilitation programs: Disabled adult children seeking employment or career development assistance can benefit from state vocational rehabilitation programs. These programs offer various services, such as job training, employment assistance, and workplace accommodations.

  • In-home support services (IHSS): Depending on the state, disabled adult children may qualify for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), providing assistance with daily living activities from a caregiver in their home.

  • ABLE accounts: Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts allows people with disabilities to save money tax-free without affecting their eligibility for government assistance programs like SSI and Medicaid. These accounts can be used for education, housing, transportation, and other disability-related expenses.

To access these benefits and resources, it's essential for disabled adult children and their families to research eligibility requirements and application processes thoroughly. Collaborating with professionals, advocacy groups, and support organizations can provide valuable information and assistance navigating this complex system. 

Disabled Adult Children (DAC) are individuals who have a disability that began before the age of 22 and are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to their disability. Disabled adult children may be entitled to Social Security benefits based on their parent's Social Security records.

To qualify as a disabled adult child, the individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a qualifying disability: The disability must meet the Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of disability and has to have begun before the age of 22. This includes both physical and mental disabilities that are severe and expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

  • Be dependent on their parents: DACs must be unmarried and dependent upon their parents for financial support. However, if the disabled adult child is married, they may still qualify if they were eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits before marriage or if their spouse is disabled and receiving SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

  • Parent's Social Security eligibility: Disabled adult children can qualify for benefits based on their parent's Social Security records if the parent receives retirement or disability benefits or has passed away but met the requirements for Social Security benefits.

Benefits and Eligibility for Disabled Adult Children

The Social Security Administration provides financial assistance to disabled adult children through two programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). In some cases, disabled adult children may be eligible for both programs.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is a needs-based federal program that provides financial assistance to people with limited income and resources, including disabled adult children. To qualify for SSI, disabled adult children must meet the income and resource limits set by the SSA. SSI benefits can also be received in addition to Social Security benefits based on the parent's record.

Eligibility for SSI depends on the income and resources of the disabled adult child, as well as any other income or resources in the household. The maximum monthly SSI benefit amount can be reduced if the disabled adult child has other income or resources or lives in a household where other members contribute to their support.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is an insurance program based on a worker's contributions to Social Security through payroll taxes. Disabled adult children can be eligible for SSDI benefits based on their parent's Social Security record if the parent is receiving retirement or disability benefits or has passed away but met eligibility requirements.

The monthly SSDI benefit amount depends on the parent's Social Security earnings history. In most cases, the disabled adult child will receive 50% of the parent's full retirement or disability benefit if the parent is still alive or 75% if the parent is deceased.

It is essential to note that disabled adult children receiving SSDI benefits must complete a two-year waiting period before becoming eligible for Medicare. However, if they also qualify for SSI, they may receive Medicaid benefits during the waiting period.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What defines a "Disabled Adult Child" according to the law? 

A “Disabled Adult Child" typically refers to an individual who becomes disabled before the age of 22 and is dependent on a parent's Social Security benefits.

2.  What are the key eligibility requirements for disabled adult children? 

Eligibility depends on several factors, including the severity of the disability, age of onset, and the parent's Social Security contribution history.

3. How is the benefit amount for a disabled adult child calculated?

The benefit amount is generally a percentage of the parent's primary insurance amount and depends on whether the parent is alive, deceased, or retired.

4. Can a disabled adult child work while receiving benefits? 

Yes, but there are limitations on the amount they can earn without affecting their benefits. Current regulations should be checked to get precise figures.

5. How can I apply for benefits for a disabled adult child? 

Applications can be made through your local Social Security office. You'll need to provide medical and financial documentation supporting your claim. An appointment can be scheduled online or over the phone.


Understanding the eligibility of disabled adult children is essential in securing the necessary support. With knowledge of relevant laws, procedures, and requirements, caregivers can effectively access the necessary benefits. The journey may be complex, but with the right information, it is navigable for the best outcome for your loved ones.

If you’re curious about SSDI for children, read through our blogs at Disability to know more.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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