Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits are a type of Title II Social Security Disability benefit available to disabled individuals who are the adult children of Social Security beneficiaries who are unable to work due to their disabilities. Adopted children may also qualify for DAC benefits if legally adopted by the insured before the insured became entitled to old-age or disability benefits.

Many times, these claimants have already received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) only to be cut-off at age 18.  To be eligible for disabled adult child benefits, the individual must be over the age of 18 and have a disability that began prior to the age of 22. The disability must also meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, which is different criteria (“adult criteria”) than individuals under the age of 18 – hence why children receiving SSI may have their benefits terminated at age 18 when there is a categorical change from the “child” to the “adult” criteria under which claims are evaluated for the continuing disability of such individuals.  

The disability must be established or proven between ages 18 and 22 to be eligible for DAC benefits. This is why such a benefit is titled, “Disabled Adult Child Benefits,” i.e., because the law defines “child” as age 22 or younger, why simultaneously including the definition of “adult” to be age 18 or older. This is also why a person may be entitled to both this “Disabled Adult Child” benefit, as well as adult SSI benefits, where the disabled adult child benefit amount falls below the financial threshold for entitlement to adult SSI benefits. Apart for DAC and SSI benefits, an individual in this age range of 18 to 22 with some work history may also qualify the individual for a small Title II Social Security disability insurance benefit on his or her own work record if they have worked and paid SSA taxes for a period of 1½ years (earning 6 credits). This benefit on his or her own work record would generally be much lower than a DAC benefit or SSI.

The amount of the benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of a parent (wage-earner), who is on Social Security Disability or Social Security Retirement, or who is deceased, on whose work record the benefit is being claimed. The maximum benefit amount is typically around half of the parent’s Social Security retirement or disability benefit.

To apply for disabled adult child benefits, the individual must complete an application and provide medical evidence of the disability. The Social Security Administration will review the application and medical evidence to determine if the individual meets the eligibility requirements for disabled adult child benefits.

In addition to providing financial support, Title II disability benefits, which include disabled adult child benefits, may also make the individual eligible for other benefits such as Medicare, which can help cover the cost of medical treatment and prescription drugs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides Medicaid.

It is important to note that disabled adult child benefits are not the same as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a needs-based program that provides financial assistance to disabled individuals who have limited income and resources. Disabled adult child benefits are based on the individual’s disability and their parent’s work record, rather than their own financial situation and are not subject to SSI income and resources (non-medical or financial) criteria.

Disabled adult child benefits can provide much-needed financial support to disabled adults who are unable to work due to their disability. If you or someone you know is the adult child of a parent receiving Social Security Disability or Social Security Retirement (but not SSI) and has a disability that began between ages 18 and 22, it may be worth exploring the possibility of applying for disabled adult child benefits. Additionally, depending on the amount of parent’s Social Security retirement or disability benefit, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in addition to disabled adult child benefits.

Read more about the author, attorney Daniel Finelli, here: https://solowaylawfirm.com/about-us/our-attorneys/daniel-j-finelli/