When a Child Turns Eighteen Will They Still Qualify for Their Mother's Social Security Benefits?

Adult children get the same amount in Social Security benefits as when they were minors.

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The Social Security Administration generally cuts off benefits to children once they turn 18. However, not all child beneficiaries who become adults lose eligibility under their mothers’ work records. Those who don’t can continue getting benefits as long as they meet certain requirements. In fact, some children can get benefits for the rest of their lives.

For How Long?

After turning 18, beneficiaries can get Social Security benefits if they’re still in high school. According to the SSA, eligibility continues for beneficiaries on their mothers’ records until they graduate or until two months after their 19th birthday, whichever happens first. The SSA also requires beneficiaries to be unmarried to keep their eligibility. All three benefit programs have these requirements for beneficiaries turning 18.


Beneficiaries who have disabilities can continue getting benefits on their mothers’ work record after turning 18. Their medical conditions have to meet the SSA’s adult definition of disability. The definition consists of disabilities being considered terminal or lasting longer than one year. Disabilities also must prevent individuals from doing their previous jobs and adapting to other types of work. Beneficiaries remain eligible for benefits as long as they remain disabled and unmarried.


Adult children can have jobs and receive benefits at the same time. However, the SSA has income limits and if their earnings exceed them, their benefits may be reduced or terminated. As of 2012, they can earn up to $1,010 per month or $1,690 if they’re blind without affecting their benefits.


For disabled adult children, the SSA schedules reviews every couple of years to determine if their medical conditions have improved. If they have permanent disabilities, the federal agency may not review their conditions as often. Also, marriages generally end the adult children’s eligibility. However, if they’re married to other disabled adult children, the SSA may make an exception to this rule and allow both to keep their benefits.