If you are disabled and at least 18 years of age, you may be eligible for more than “just” Supplemental Security Income, even if you have never worked or did not earn enough work credits to claim Disability Insurance benefits on your own account. A disabled individual may claim on the Social Security account of his/her parent (sometimes grandparent or step-parent) if the parent is deceased, retired or disabled at the time of the claim and the disabled individual can show that the disability began before the age of 22. This is called a Disabled Adult Child claim (DAC). It is considered a Child’s Benefit because the disabled individual is (usually) collecting on the account of an insured parent.
The eligibility remains in place so long as the disabled individual remains disabled, unmarried and does not work at the Substantial Gainful Activity level. However, if you marry another Social Security beneficiary, you may still be eligible for these benefits. You must show a continuing disability that is likely to last 12 months or result in your death. The typical DAC beneficiary received SSI as a child under the age of 18. Yet, this is not always the case. Sometimes, if a child’s family was over-resourced, that rendered the child ineligible for SSI Child benefits. When s/he turns 18 years of age, Social Security considers him/her an adult and may now become eligible for DAC and/or SSI benefits.
It is important to consult with an attorney for these complicated questions regarding a potential DAC claim because these claims come with more than a monthly check – The DAC beneficiary will become eligible for Medicare 29 months from the date s/he has been found disabled. Benefits will not be paid more than one year prior to the date of application, so it is especially important to apply as soon as the disabled adult child meets the criteria.
A DAC claim is potentially worth more than an SSI application alone. A DAC beneficiary stands to receive ½ of the parent’s full benefit, if the parent is living and ¾ of the parent’s full benefit, if the parent is deceased. If both parents are disabled, retired or deceased, the DAC beneficiary is entitled to the higher of the 2 parent accounts.
Understanding the subtle nuances of the DAC claim requires a fluent knowledge base of Social Security law. If you are an adult and are currently receiving SSI benefits, it still may not be too late to apply for a DAC benefit claim. Contact an experienced attorney who can help answer your eligibility questions.