If you and your family are having trouble making ends meet, there could be help available to you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides special benefits called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled children and adults who meet SSA’s disability listings, but have very little income or other resources.

When Do Disabled Children Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

SSA evaluates the parents’ combined income to determine whether a child is financially eligible for SSI benefits. There are three different ways children may be eligible for Social Security disability or SSI payments:

  • Low-income children. Families who have a low income and are caring for a disabled child may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) until the child turns 18. Children who are granted SSI are usually eligible for other free benefits, such as Medicaid. After the child’s 18th birthday, he or she may be able to collect adult SSI benefits, but must meet the adult definition of disabled in order to collect Social Security disability benefits.
  • Adult children. Adults over 18 who have been disabled since childhood are eligible for disability benefits under a parent’s earnings record. Disabled adult children may get benefits if a parent collects Social Security disability, if a parent is collecting retirement benefits, or if a deceased parent qualified for one of these payments before their death.
  • Dependent benefits. Children under the age of 18 who have a parent that collects Social Security disability or Social Security retirement benefits may be able to collect dependent benefits on their parent’s earnings record. The child does not have to be disabled to qualify for these benefits.

You should be aware that after a child turns 18, the family’s income will no longer be considered in the determination for SSI. However, if a child still lives at home or receives free room and board, SSA may lower the child’s disability payment. To find out how to get the most out of your child’s Social Security benefits, leave a question in the comments below and we will get back to you with our response.


Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer
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