What Happens To My SSDI Benefits When My Child Turns 18?

During our decades as professional Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) lawyers, our team of experienced SSDI attorneys has answered a lot of questions about how benefits change under different family circumstances. The Law Office of Daniel Berger wants you to be fully informed and to understand all there is to know about your Social Security Disability benefits.

Only by getting an experienced SSD attorney can you be sure you are getting the SSDI and SSI benefits you and your child deserve. The Social Security Administration’s regulations require different calculations for many different situations. NYDisability.com and Attorney Daniel Berger can guide you through the maze of rules and exceptions so your family receives every benefit available.

There are several circumstances in which your child’s age can affect your family’s SSDI benefits. Let’s look at them one at a time.

When You Are Disabled, and You Have a Non-Disabled Minor Child

Hundreds of thousands of people receiving SSDI benefits have one or more children younger than 18 years old. In many cases, if you are receiving SSDI benefits because of your own disability, your family members can be eligible to receive benefits too. These benefits are called auxiliary disability benefits. The rules and equations that apply to determine how much family members can receive are complicated, but generally, a family’s total benefit payment cannot be more than 150% or less than 100% of the disabled worker’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).

The PIA is calculated by taking 90% of the first $996 of the worker’s average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). Then add 32% of the AIME above $996 and below $6002. Finally, add 15% of the AIME above $6002. If a worker’s PIA benefit amount were $1,200, and the worker had a spouse who was under age 62 and is a joint caregiver of at least one healthy minor child under age 16, then the family would qualify for an auxiliary benefit of $300 each for the spouse and child. As you see their combined $600 and the SSDI beneficiary’s $1200 is 150% of the PIA. With each additional child, the $600 would be divided further into as many portions as there are eligible auxiliary family members.

When Your Non-Disabled Minor Child Turns 18 Years Old

In the scenario used above where an SSDI benefit recipient has a spouse and one healthy minor child, let’s assume the child turns 18. The child would no longer be eligible as an auxiliary beneficiary unless they were a full-time student. With only a single child, as in our example, the spouse would stop receiving auxiliary benefits when the minor child reached age 16, though the child would remain eligible until they graduate from secondary school or reach age 19, whichever comes first. As noted above, if your child is receiving auxiliary benefits and is a full-time student (post-secondary school), then they will be eligible until age 21. The monthly SSDI benefits paid to the disabled worker will remain the same.

When You Receive SSDI (SSI) Benefits on Behalf of Your Disabled Child (DAC Program)

Families of children with disabilities who are younger than 18 can apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on behalf of the disabled child if their total income and available financial resources are sufficiently limited to qualify. Remember, SSI is a needs-based program, so the family’s economic circumstances are important in determining eligibility.

Children are eligible for SSI disability benefits if they have a medical condition or combination of conditions that result in “marked and severe functional limitations.” Eligible children live with very serious activity limitations.

When your SSI benefit is based on a child’s qualifying disability, and the child’s disability persists into their adulthood, then the child’s 18th birthday changes the benefits.

When a disabled child living at home with a parent reaches age 18, they may still receive SSI or SSDI payments if the following conditions apply:

  • They are at least 18 years old
  • The disability began before they reached age 22
  • They are unmarried (or they are married to a partner who is eligible for SSDI)
  • One parent receives benefits for SSDI or Social Security retirement, or survivor benefits

In such an event, the adult disabled child could receive 50% of the SSDI benefit the parent would be eligible for if they were disabled.

If your disabled adult child lives independently, then only their income and financial resources (and that of their spouse) are considered in deciding eligibility.

Second, the criteria for a qualifying disability change as well. The disability of a qualifying adult is defined as a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that prevent the person from performing the substantial gainful activity.

If the adult child who received SSI benefits as a child and remains disabled under the adult disability definition, they can continue to receive their SSDI benefit for as long as they remain disabled.

A Social Security Disability Lawyer Will Get You All the Benefits You Deserve

The Law Office of Daniel Berger specializes in handling all Social Security Disability claims, whether they are SSI benefits for disabled children, auxiliary SSI benefits for non-disabled children of SSDI recipients, adopted children, and stepchildren. Your family is the most important client we have. Trust us to fight for your SSDI benefits.