Programs That Help Parents Of Disabled Adults

Are you caring for your disabled adult child in your home? This is a great responsibility, but there are federal and state programs that help households like yours. Some of these are disability benefits that your child may receive directly, while others are benefits designed for the family.

SSDI Benefits For Disabled Adult Children

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides benefits based on one’s earnings record, much like Social Security retirement. But even if your adult son or daughter has never worked before, he or she may still be eligible for this federal program, based upon the benefits of your own earnings record. Or the record of the other parent. This is called Disabled Adult Children (DAC) benefits, also known as the Childhood Disability Benefits.

These SSDI/DAC benefits will only be up to 50 percent of the parent’s benefit amount. In other words, your child may potentially receive only half of what you would be receiving if you were the one with disability.

These are the main eligibility requirements for a disabled adult child to qualify for SSDI:

  • The disability must have started before his or her 22nd birthday.
  • He or she is at least 18 years old.
  • He or she is not married.
  • He or she has a parent who receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits, OR a deceased parent who has left survivor’s benefits to the other parent.
  • His or her disability meets the criteria of the Social Security Administration (SSA), as stated in their Blue Book.
  • The disability must be preventing him or her from performing gainful work, or in SSA terms, “substantial gainful activity.”

What if the disabled adult was able to earn with a job before? The SSA will look at whether he or she has worked a sufficient number of years to be able to obtain benefits based on his or her own earnings record.

SSI For Disabled Adult Children

If your disabled adult child is not eligible for SSDI based on your own work record, a different option is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The benefits in this program are not based on earnings history but on one’s income and assets. It is designed for low-income disabled individuals who are in need of income.

To qualify for SSI, your adult child must meet the SSA’s disability criteria and must be within the program’s income and asset limits. In 2018, the SSI countable income limit for a single person is $750, while the resources limit is $2,000.

Note that under SSA rules, the countable income includes not just money but also some ‘in-kind’ endowments, such as the value of food that the person receives. In terms of resources, the SSA counts significant things that your child legally owns, such as land, stocks, and bonds.

The maximum benefit amount that your child can get under SSI is the federal benefit rate (FBR), which changes every year. In 2018, the FBR is $750.

Virginia Adult Services (AS) Program

This state program does not directly offer monetary support but can provide the additional services your family needs at home. It is intended for Virginia residents who are old or disabled and are in need of significant care. Instead of being placed in nursing homes, they can remain living in their own homes while receiving the services under the AS program.

To be eligible for this program, your child must:

  • Be at least 60 year old OR at least 18 years old and disabled
  • Have been assessed to have a need for regular, significant care
  • Be a member of a low-income family – in Virginia, the actual figure for this depends on the state median income.

The benefits your family may receive under the AS program include adult foster care, adult day care, case management, companion services, chore services, nutritional counseling, and more.

Apart from these state and federal programs, there are other ways to obtain the support you need with your disabled adult child. For example, some spouses are able to receive spousal Social Security benefits even before turning 62, on the grounds that they are caring for their disabled child at home.

To identify all the programs that may benefit you, your child, and your family – and to maximize the benefits you receive from these – talk to an attorney who is experienced in helping the disabled. In Virginia, you can consult for free with us at the Gillette Law Group. Call us today at (855) 873-2604.