What will happen when my disabled child turns 18?

A recent post discussed how disabled children in Maryland may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. This post will center on disabled children who turn 18 and their eligibility requirements for SSD. First, it is important for you to understand that once a child turns 18, the child is generally considered a legal adult by Social Security. This means the benefits the child has been receiving will stop and the child will need to qualify for continued benefits under the same rules as a disabled adult.

If you have a child who could not qualify due to your income, the child’s 18th birthday will allow him or her to reapply for benefits. This applies even if the child is living at home with you and you are the primary caregiver. Disabled children, age 18 and over, will need to show that they suffer from a disabling condition recognized by Social Security, that they make less income than the stated allowance for that year, and that the condition is expected to last more than 12 months. Your child’s doctor will need to provide current medical information that supports the disability claim.

For a child who already receives benefits, Social Security will evaluate the child’s medical condition to determine if the child meets adult standards. If the child’s condition meets the qualifying factors, then the adult “child” benefits will continue uninterrupted and eligibility will only be affected if the child’s condition changes over time. The benefits will come from your Social Security earnings record so the child does not have to have any work record to receive them.

In the event that you, as the parent, are a recipient of disability or retirement benefits from Social Security, or the other parent has died and had earned Social Security earnings, your disabled child can be paid from those earnings as an adult child. However, it should be remembered that every situation is different. This should not be taken as legal counsel, but merely as general information.

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