It’s not easy to care for an adult child. His disability has kept him at home since he was a teenager, and while he can do many things on his own, he is not fully independent. Now that he is considering part-time work, you’re wondering if the amount he earns will only end up hurting his right to get disability benefits.

Adult Children With Jobs Can Get Social Security Benefits

If your child was disabled before the age of 22, he can continue to receive disability benefits as long as he does not earn a “substantial” amount at his job. The Social Security Administration (SSA) changes the amount of “substantial" earnings every year; in 2014, adult children earning over $1,070 a month from their work would be disqualified from benefits. Certain expenses the adult child must pay in order to work—such as bus fares or taxis—may not be included in SSA’s calculation.

Here are a few more things that can affect an adult child’s Social Security benefits:

  • Getting married. If adults who have been disabled since childhood get married, benefits will generally be suspended. However, if your child marries another person who is eligible for Social Security disability benefits, the marriage is considered “protected” and benefits should continue.
  • Dependent benefits. Children, disabled or not, may be able to get Social Security benefits if a parent, adoptive parent, or step-parent was entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits before he or she died. A child may receive up to 50 percent of the parent’s monthly benefit. These benefits, called auxiliary benefits or dependent benefits, are collected on the parent’s Social Security record rather than the child’s.
  • Parents who never worked. If a parent of an adult child has never worked, no benefits will be payable on that parent’s Social Security record.

How Adult Children May Qualify for Their Own Social Security Benefits

If a disabled adult child works long enough, he or she may be able to collect disability benefits on his or her own record. However, adult children will usually get a higher benefit amount using their parents’ records, because in most cases parents have earned more money over their lifetimes than the child.

You will have to report your child’s earnings to SSA. It is worth noting that benefits can be adjusted based on income, so you should attach information that proves your child is still unable to perform substantial employment. To find out how we can help you maximize your child’s payments, click the contact link on this page to tell us about your case.


Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer