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What Happens To My SSDI When My Child Turns 18?

If you have a disability and receive benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program, your children may also be eligible for SSD benefits. In fact, Social Security paid almost $3 billion in benefits to four million children last year because they had at least one parent who was either disabled, deceased, or retired.

When you qualify for SSDI, benefits for children provide financial stability with money to pay for necessities and enable your children to complete high school. A frequent concern for a parent of a teenager is the effect that turning 18 years old will have on the parent’s SSDI benefits.

Consulting an SSDI advocate at London Disability gets you the answers you need for all questions and concerns about Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, and they can also help with applications for benefits and appeals of adverse determinations. The following information offers an overview of what you need to know about benefits available to children with disabled parents who qualify for SSDI.

What are the requirements to qualify for SSDI?

For your child to be eligible for SSDI benefits for children, you must be disabled and eligible for SSDI. That means you must have worked for a long enough duration and paid Social Security taxes on the income from employment or self-employment to qualify for benefits.

You need enough work credits to be entitled to benefits. Work credits are based on the amount of income you earn each year. For 2021, you earn one work credit for every $1,470 of income that was subject to Social Security taxation. Four is the maximum number of credits you may earn each year.

The number of credits needed to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. As a general rule, the older you are at the onset of your disability, the more credits you need to qualify for SSDI. The following are a few examples showing the work credits needed based on the disability onset at different ages:

  • Onset before 24 years old: Six work credits.
  • Onset between 24 and 30 years old: Eight to 18 work credits.
  • Onset between 31 and 42 years of age: Twenty work credits.

The maximum number of work credits anyone would need to qualify for benefits is 40. Earning more than 40 credits does not increase your monthly benefit. Monthly benefits are determined through a formula Social Security uses that is based on your total lifetime earnings.

Who is eligible for children’s benefits, and how much may they receive?

An unmarried child, who has a disabled parent entitled to receive SSDI or whose deceased parent worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits, may be eligible for children’s benefits as long as they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Must be younger than 18 years of age.
  • Be between 18 and 19 years old and attending high school full time.
  • Be at least 18 years of age with a disability that started before the child reached 22 years of age.

A child may receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits equal to half of what a parent receives. However, a limit on the amount payable to family members through a parent’s SSDI applies. The maximum ranges from 150% to 180% of the parent’s full benefit. Anything above the maximum results in a reduction in what each child receives to bring the total back to the allowable percentage.

What happens to your SSDI when a child turns 18 years of age?

When a child reaches 18 years of age, SSDI benefits through a parent stop usually stop unless the child needs additional time to graduate from school. Under those circumstances, a child may continue receiving benefits until graduation or two months after their 19th birthday, whichever comes first.

Benefits also may continue beyond a child’s 18th birthday for a child who was disabled before reaching 22 years of age. The SSDI benefits payable under these circumstances are paid to the child based on their parent’s work and earnings record. Talk to a disability advocate at London Disability for additional information about childhood disabilities and SSDI benefits.

Your monthly SSDI is not reduced to pay benefits to one or more of your children, so when a child no longer qualifies for benefits, your monthly payment stays the same. However, if you have other children receiving benefits, the money Social Security no longer pays to one of your children may be distributed among other children you have who are eligible for benefits.

Get professional advice from an SSD advocate

If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, your spouse and children may be eligible for family benefits through your account. Payments they receive will not affect the SSDI benefits that you get each month. Talk to a Social Security disability advocate at London Disability to learn more about it and to apply for benefits.

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