June 14, 2009

I have an adult son who is disabled and never worked. Will he be able to get my Social Security when I die?

Your son can become eligible for Social Security benefits as a "disabled adult child" when either you or his father start receiving Social Security benefits as long as he meets some basic requirements:
  • His disability must have begun before age 22 and be severe enough to keep him from doing substantial work,
  • He must be unmarried, and
  • He must not be eligible for a higher benefit based on his own work history.

The benefit rate for a disabled adult "child" while the parent is living is generally 1/2 of the parent's full (unreduced) Social Security benefit. If the parent dies, the disabled child's rate is increased to 75% of the parent's full benefit. And he can continue to receive these benefits regardless of his age as long as he meets the basic requirements listed above.

The Social Security Administration also administers another disability program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Even if both parents are still working, your son may qualify for SSI now if he has limited income and financial assets. In most states, people who receive SSI payments automatically qualify for Medicaid. Check with Social Security for more information and to find out how to apply.


  1. I have a severly disabled child, Ben, 22, who draws SSI. When I retire, will Ben be able to collect Social Security benefits as a "disabled adult child" in addition to his SSI?

  2. Your son will qualify for benefits as a "disabled adult child" on your account when you retire as long as he remains unmarried and his disability prevents him from working. He will be required to apply for Social Security benefits when you do, so be sure to find out how his Social Security will affect his SSI payments before you apply. Even if his SSI payments stop, he should be able to keep his Medicaid but ask about this as well.

  3. Diane, an ex-spouse need not wait until her ex-spouse
    collects social security to college his or her benefit
    at age 62, the ex-spouse who was married for 10 years
    just needs to be eligible for his/her benefit, but does not actually have to apply for them, (assuming a 2 year divorce period before it), does this apply to dacs,aka a parent not working/receiving ss at 62.

  4. No, unlike divorced spouses, a DAC (disabled adult children) cannot receive benefits on a parent's record until either the parent applies for benefits or dies. The good news is that the DAC can receive benefits at any age as long as they became disabled before age 22, are unmarried, and did not work "substantially" after age 22.