People in Florida often wonder how Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are determined for a dependent child. The determination as to whether the child is disabled is irrelevant before the age of 18, as long as he or she is a dependent. In general, unless the child is a full-time student in elementary or high school, his or her dependent SSD benefits will cease at the age of 18. If that is the case, the benefits can continue until the age of 19. After that, the Social Security Administration will have to decide whether the former dependent is disabled and can receive SSD benefits on his or her own.
A child with a disability can receive benefits on the record of the parent or guardian after the age of 18, if they meet the criteria. If the impairment started prior to the age of 22 and the child meets the definition of disability for adults, then that is enough for there to be SSD benefits provided. Adults who were disabled before the age of 22 might be able to receive SSD benefits, if a parent has died or begins receiving retirement benefits or disability benefits. This will be viewed as a "child's" benefit, since it will be paid based on the Social Security earnings record accrued by the parent.
For an "adult child," the child must not be married, must be 18-years-old or older and have a disability that began prior to the age of 22. This includes children who were adopted. In certain instances, it can include grandchildren, stepchildren or step-grandchildren.
An example of this type of situation might be if a person who worked begins receiving retirement benefits from Social Security at the age of 62. A child who is well past the age of 18, but has been suffering from a condition like cerebral palsy since infancy, will be able to collect the "child's" benefit based on the parent's Social Security benefits.
These are important federal regulations that must be understood when parents are concerned about their dependent child receiving benefits after turning 18. Knowing the requirements and rules is a key to making certain these dependents get what they are entitled to and need. Speaking to a legal professional experienced in dealing with cases of dependent children and disability benefits is a wise decision to ensure these dependents and former dependents are protected.
Source: SSA.gov, "Disability Planner: Benefits for a Disabled Child," accessed on Nov. 23, 2015