Disability Benefits for Adult Children With Autism

If you have a child with autism, you probably worry about his future. While he may have talents and abilities, chances are he won’t be able to get a job building 10-foot-tall Lego towers or lecturing about Pokemon. And, if he does get a job, a lack of social skills and extreme sensitivities may make it impossible for him to hold that job. Even simple jobs like returning grocery carts might be too much for a young person who finds crowds and traffic overstimulating.

What Are My Options?

Young adults with autism may not understand social norms. They may not grasp the purpose of changing clothing or washing dishes. It might be impossible for your child to live on his own, and it could be hard for you to continue to support him without financial help. What happens when your child is 18 and no longer qualifies for SSI disability benefits for children?

There are two options:

  1. Your child can reapply for SSI benefits as an adult
  2. Your child can apply for Social Security disability benefits based on your earning record or the earning record of your spouse. To do so, he must qualify as a "disabled adult child."  

Who Qualifies as a Disabled Adult Child?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a person must meet the following criteria to qualify for SSDI benefits as a disabled adult child:

  • The person must be 18 or older
  • The person must be unmarried
  • The person must have a qualifying disability that began before age 22
  • The person must have a parent who receives Social Security benefits (for age or disability) or is deceased and was receiving Social Security benefits at the time of death

Qualifying Disabilities

If your child meets the criteria to receive SSDI as a disabled adult child, he will be eligible to receive monthly SSDI payments. However, he must be found to have a qualifying disability.

His disability, condition or impairment must:

  • Have begun before age 22


  • Have lasted at least 12 months, be expected to last at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death, and
  • Cause an inability to perform substantial work for pay
  • Meet the criteria for approval as outlined in the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments or be considered equivalent in severity to a listed impairment

If your child qualifies for SSDI as a disabled adult child and he decides to get married, he will be unable to continue receiving SSDI benefits. An exception may be made if he marries another disabled adult child.

Contact Keefe Disability Law

The Social Security benefit application process is complicated. How do you know what is best for you and your child? Contact Keefe Disability Law and ask to schedule a free consultation. We can help you determine the best option for your family and even walk you through the application process. To make an appointment with our Boston disability lawyers, call 888-904-6847.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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