Social Security Disability is an extremely valuable program for adults who have a physical or mental condition that prevents them from being able to hold down a meaningful job.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits depends on a number of factors, including the applicant’s work history. Since SSD is a program for disabled workers, applicants must show that they have generated sufficient “work credits” to be eligible for benefits. In other words, people need to “pay in” before they can draw from the program.
This requirement, however, can be unduly burdensome for people who become disabled at a relatively young age. They simply haven’t had enough time to qualify under the work rules that apply to older beneficiaries. For that reason, the Social Security Administration has special eligibility rules for individuals who become disabled before age 22.
Americans who develop a disabling condition before age 22 can qualify for SSD benefits based on a parent’s work record. So long as all of the other conditions for eligibility are met, the disabled child can recover benefits if at least one parent has generated enough work credits. It is not necessary for the disabled child to have ever had a job.
If the parent never worked, the child will likely not be eligible for SSD benefits. However, he or she may still qualify for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program.
It is important to recognize that SSD benefits based on a parent’s work record could end if the beneficiary gets married or returns to work full time. For that reason, it is important to consult with an experienced disability attorney before making any major life changes.
Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Planner: Benefits For A Disabled Child.”
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