Portrait of cute handicapped boy in garden.Special adult child’s benefits may be available

Many disabled children in Illinois may be eligible for Social Security benefits as minors. Once these children turn 18, they may qualify to receive Social Security Disability benefits. However, as any Social Security attorney knows, eligibility isn’t guaranteed, even for children who previously collected other benefits. After age 18, disabled children can only receive benefits if they meet the Social Security Administration’s distinct criteria for adults.

Qualifying financially

SSD benefits are only available to people with adequate work and earnings records. Disabled adult children who worked before or despite their disabilities may have sufficient earnings. Otherwise, disabled adult children may receive benefits based on the earnings of a qualifying parent. These benefits are known as adult child’s benefits.

A qualifying parent must receive Social Security disability or retirement benefits. A disabled adult child may collect up to half of a parent’s benefit amount. Alternately, an adult child may qualify for benefits if a deceased parent had an adequate work history. A child who has a personal work history can still qualify for benefits based on a parent’s earnings. This may yield a larger benefit, since parents typically have greater earnings.

Establishing disablement

Besides qualifying financially for benefits, adult children must meet the SSA’s adult definition of disability. The disabling condition must be expected to last over 12 months or result in death. The condition must prevent the child from performing any work he or she performed previously. Additionally, the condition must preclude the child from pursuing new work.

Disabled adult children may qualify for benefits in various ways, as a Social Security attorney can explain. These include:

  • Qualifying under a “Blue Book” listing. Impairments listed in the book are automatically considered disabling if they cause specified symptoms or limitations.
  • “Equaling” the terms of a listing. The SSA may determine that a child’s limitations are just as severe as those described in the book. Therefore, a child may receive benefits without meeting exact listing terms.
  • Receiving a medical-vocational allowance. The SSA may award an allowance after evaluating a child’s education, impairments and work experience. If these factors limit a child from working gainfully, the child may receive benefits.

Regardless of how disabled adult children may qualify for benefits, they should provide ample documentation. Medical evidence should establish the nature, severity and prognosis of the condition. Statements from non-medical sources can help show the functional limitations the child experiences.

As a Social Security attorney understands, SSD applicants should document every symptom, limitation and minor impairment. Documenting secondary impairments won’t help a child meet Blue Book listing terms. However, this evidence may improve the likelihood of the child “equaling” a listing or receiving a medical-vocational allowance.