Generally, child disability benefits stop when a child reaches 18. In some cases, Social Security benefit disbursement can continue indefinitely into adulthood if the child is physically or mentally disabled and living with a parent receiving Social Security.   

An adult child is someone who is 18 or older. Since the benefit being paid is based on a parent's Social Security earnings, the adult is considered a child.

What Are the Qualifications?

To receive disability benefits as an adult disabled since childhood, the following requirements must be met: 

  • The child must have a disability that began before they turned 22;
  • The child must be unmarried; and
  • They are a child of someone who receives Social Security retirement, disability, or survivor benefits.

What Criteria Does the Social Security Administration Use?

When an adult child is applying for benefits for the first time, or is having child benefits renewed, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will use adult disability criteria. The adult must have a: 

  • Physical condition, mental condition, or a combination of both;
  • Condition that prevents them from doing a significant amount of work; and
  • Condition will last at least a year or death is an expected result.

How Does the Social Security Administration Determine If an Adult Child Is Disabled?

If the above criteria are met, the SSA will then compare the adult's condition with a list of impairments that would prevent someone from working for at least a year. 

  • If the person's condition matches an impairment on the list, then the adult is approved for benefits.
  • If the person's condition is not equal to impairment on the list then the adult's ability to perform work similar to what was performed in the past is examined. If they cannot do the work performed in the past, then the adult is approved for benefits.

What Happens after Being Approved for Benefits?

Once benefits are approved, the disability case will be periodically reviewed. How often the review takes place will depend on the seriousness of your condition.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you, or someone you =know, seeks disability benefits, or would like to appeal a benefits decision, you may want to meet with a government attorney experienced with Social Security benefits and regulations. The lawyer can discuss with you the rights and remedies that exist under Social Security law. Additionally, the attorney can help file a benefits claim or appeal a decision.