Can Social Security Benefits Continue After a Child Is 18?

In 2011, over 4.3 million children received Social Security disability, retirement or survivors benefits. If you’re a beneficiary who is about to turn 18, your eligibility generally ends when you become an adult, but you can continue getting benefits after turning 18 if you satisfy the Social Security Administration’s requirements.

Social Security Benefits

If you’ve turned 18 and were getting Social Security benefits on your parents’ work records, you may still keep your eligibility if you’re still in high school. The Social Security Administration continues benefits until you graduate from high school or two months after you turn 19, whichever happens first. You must also be unmarried.

Considerations

You can receive Social Security benefits for the rest of your life on your parents’ record if you’re unmarried and disabled before reaching age 22. This depends on meeting the Social Security Administration's adult definition of disability every time your medical condition is reviewed, which may happen every couple of years. As an adult, your benefits are considered "child benefits" due to payment amounts being based on your parents’ entitled benefit.

Supplemental Security Income

The benefits you received as a child under the Supplemental Security Income program may stop once you turn 18. The SSI program is a needs-based program for low-income disabled children and elderly individuals. Once you turn 18, you are not considered a child and your benefits are terminated unless you’re still in school. If that’s the case, you can get SSI benefits until age 22. Other requirements include you being unmarried and not considered head of a household.

Options

If you’re still disabled and SSI benefits were terminated when you turned 18, you can apply for adult benefits. You have to meet the SSA’s adult definition of disability, and your eligibility is determined by the resources, income and assets you own. As a child, your eligibility was based on your parents’ resources and assets. Your eligibility lasts as long as you’re considered disabled, and the SSA reviews your condition every three years.

Working

You can continue getting Social Security benefits and work at the same time. As of 2012, the Social Security Administration limits the amount you can make from working while on disability to $1,010 per month, or $1,690 if you’re blind, before your benefits stop. Under the SSI program, your earned income decreases your benefits almost immediately. As of 2012, your benefits are reduced after the first $85 you make during the month.

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