A common question that arises among survivors of deceased Social Security recipients is whether a grown child can collect a parent’s Social Security. The short answer is yes, but only under specific circumstances.
This article explains those circumstances and provides details about how the rights of surviving family members are dealt with by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
At Liner Legal Disability Lawyers, we have extensive experience successfully representing Social Security Disability claimants and their families to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. If you have questions about the disability or survivor benefits you are eligible to receive, contact our office today. We can help you solve your disability issues in Ohio or wherever you live in the U.S.
Eligibility Criteria for Grown Children
The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows certain grown children to collect benefits on their parent’s records. However, the eligibility criteria are stringent and usually include the following conditions:
- Disability Before Age 22: A grown child can receive benefits if they are disabled and their disability begins before age 22. This provision is particularly significant as it extends the eligibility of a “child” under Social Security rules, allowing adults who are disabled from a young age to benefit from their parent’s work record.
- Unmarried Status: The child must be unmarried to qualify. Marriage generally disqualifies a grown child from receiving these benefits, with limited exceptions.
- Dependence on the Parent: The grown child must have been dependent on the parent for support at the time the disability began or before reaching age 22.
- Parent’s Benefit Status: The parent must be deceased, retired, or disabled and entitled to Social Security benefits. The child’s benefits will be a percentage of the retirement or disability benefits the parent was receiving.
Nature and Amount of Benefits
The benefits a grown child can receive depend on the parent’s earning record and the type of benefit the parent is eligible for. The amount is typically up to 50% of the parent’s disability or retirement benefit or up to 75% if the parent is deceased.
However, these benefits are subject to the family maximum benefit rule, which limits the total amount that can be paid based on one worker’s record. The rule prohibits any benefits being paid to the family or survivors to exceed 150 percent of the primary recipient’s benefits.
Some parents may wonder whether their child’s receipt of benefits will reduce their own Social Security payments. The good news is that benefits paid to a grown child do not affect the amount of the parent’s retirement or disability benefits.
Application and Documentation
To apply for benefits, the grown child must provide proof of the disability, supported by detailed medical records, and proof of the disability’s onset before age 22. The SSA requires a few foundational documents such as birth certificates, proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status, and marriage records to verify the child’s status and relationship to the parent.
Changes in the adult child’s life circumstances can have an impact on their eligibility to receive benefits:
- Marriage: If an adult child receiving benefits gets married, the benefits will generally stop unless the marriage is to another Social Security beneficiary with certain types of benefits.
- Work and Earnings: If the grown child works, their earnings will be considered and can affect their eligibility for benefits. The SSA sets annual limits on how much a beneficiary can earn while still receiving full benefits. These change each year.
- Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs): As with all disability benefits recipients, the SSA periodically reviews the condition of disability, determining whether the impairment has improved to the extent that the person could perform substantial gainful activities (SGAs). The frequency of these periodic reviews depends on how the SSA classifies the person’s impairment.
For impairments in which medical improvement is expected (MIE), reviews are more frequent, every three years. For those whose medical improvement is not expected (MINE), reviews are no more frequent than every 5 years. And when medical improvement is “possible,” (MIP), a review can be scheduled every 3 years but the actual performance of the review is less subject to prediction.
Experienced Disability Legal Guidance is Essential
Applying for Social Security benefits as a disabled adult child of an eligible parent can be a complex process. It is strongly advised to seek guidance from an experienced disability attorney whose entire law practice focuses on disability law. Disability law specialists understand the specific circumstances and ensure compliance with all application requirements.
If a Social Security Disability application is incomplete or fails to provide clear support for the approval of benefits, your claim may be unnecessarily delayed or even initially denied. No one in need of Social Security benefits can afford to wait months longer than necessary if they can avoid it.
A grown child can collect a parent’s Social Security benefits under certain conditions, primarily if they are disabled and their disability began before age 22. These benefits are an essential source of support for disabled adults who may have limited income opportunities. Understanding the eligibility criteria, the nature of the benefits, and the implications for both the child and the parent is crucial for taking full advantage of the Social Security system.
Liner Legal Disability Lawyers concentrates entirely on helping disabled individuals win and keep the disability benefits to which they are legally entitled. Contact our office today for help with your disability claim.