Don’t Forget to Switch from SSI Benefits to Disabled Adult Child Benefits

Because of a disability, a person receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may not have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits on their own work record.   You might assume, therefore, that this person can never receive SSDI benefits in the future.   But this is not always the case.  In fact, many people who receive SSI benefits and who became disabled before age 22 can switch to a form of SSDI benefits when one of their parents retires, becomes disabled or passes away.


People receiving SSI benefits (and anyone else, for that matter) can qualify for Disabled Adult Child benefits (DAC) if:


  •  they became disabled prior to age 22;
  •  one of their parents paid into the Social Security system for the required number of quarters; and…
  •  that parent dies, retires or becomes disabled.

When the parent retires or becomes disabled, the child will receive 50 percent of the parent’s Social Security benefit, and if the parent dies the payment is increased to 75 percent of the parent’s benefit.   This additional benefit causes no reduction in the parent’s Social Security benefit.

Under this program the disabled adult child is only able to draw DAC benefits from one parent at a time—-this would be the higher amount.

To receive this benefit the disabled adult child must be single or married to another person who is also receiving DAC benefits.

When a person starts receiving an SSDI payment, those additional funds will normally cause the person to lose their SSI benefits if the amount that they receive from their parent’s work record is greater than their current SSI benefit amount.

Fortunately, under something called the “Pickle Amendment” the receipt of additional SSDI funds does not cause the disabled adult child to lose their Medicaid eligibility that would normally result from a loss of SSI benefits.  In addition, after the disabled adult child receives two years of SSDI benefits, they will also begin to receive Medicare benefits.

It is important in order to ensure receipt of the DAC benefits that the parent informs Social Security that they have a disabled child when they apply for Social Security for themselves and have someone in the family report when the parent passes away.

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