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Children and Eligibility for Disability Benefits

In this article:
Children and SSDI benefits | Children and SSI benefits | Turned 18 and lost SSI benefits

Children and SSDI benefits

As mentioned above, SSDI is specifically for disabled workers who can no longer work. Because children have not worked and do not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI, they will not be eligible for SSDI based on their own work record.

Now, here is where it can get a bit complicated. SSDI dependent benefits are provided to the dependent children of disabled workers, even if the child is not disabled. So if you have become disabled and you have a child, they may be entitled to SSDI dependent benefits.

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What if your child is disabled? If you have a child and they are disabled before the age of 22 and you are receiving SSDI benefits, the disabled child may continue to receive a child's disability benefit based on your Social Security Earnings record past the age of 18 or the age when other non-disabled children would no longer be eligible for SSDI auxiliary benefits.

Additionally, the SSA must determine that the "adult child" meets the Social Security Administration's definition of disability, they cannot be married, and their disability must have started before 22 years of age.


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Children and SSI benefits

Generally, if a child is disabled, assuming their parents meet the income and resources requirements, the child will be entitled to Supplemental Security Income benefits. To qualify for SSI the child must:

To determine if your child's condition is marked and severe the SSA will first evaluate whether the condition is listed on the SSA listing of impairment. If not, the SSA will perform an assessment of the child's limitations.

Some specially noted conditions such as total blindness, total deafness, Down syndrome, low birth weight, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy may be considered automatically disabling and claimants may receive "presumptive disability" payments for six months while the case is evaluated.

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Turned 18 and lost SSI benefits

It is not unusual for a child to turn 18 years of age and lose their SSI benefits. The SSA may have performed a continuing disability review and determined that although the child's condition caused marked and severe limitations for them as a child, the condition does not preclude them from now finding employment. To win SSI benefits as an adult your child will have to prove their condition is so severe they are unable to perform substantial gainful activity. If you have questions about your case, contact the SSA or a disability lawyer.