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What happens if I am disabled before the age of 22?

Published on August 5th, 2014

Whether you’re passed the age of retirement or barely out of high school, becoming disabled can have a huge impact on your life. It can also happen at any age too, which is problematic because this means that it may be difficult to plan for.

In this week’s blog post, we wanted to focus on people who become disabled before the age of 22. This is considered by some to be a critical age because a person may have only limited work experience at this time in their life. They may also be in school and working toward a higher education. Both can put a strain on a person’s finances and may leave them wondering if they are eligible for benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, an adult who becomes disabled before the age of 22 is eligible for what are called “child’s benefits,” but only if:

1.) their parent starts receiving retirement or disability benefits or

2.) their parent is deceased. The amount of benefits the adult child will receive will be based on their parent’s work history.

This is helpful because benefit amounts are usually based on years worked. But if a person becomes disabled before working 10 years, they may not be eligible for benefits based on their own work history. Using their parent’s work history to calculate benefits though generally ensures that they will receive benefits.

It’s worth noting that while an adult child may work while collecting benefits, the amount earned may not exceed $1,070 per month. It’s also worth pointing out that a person may be able to collect SSI while also receiving disability benefits. This higher income may entitle the person to Medicare benefits as well.

The federal government also provides assistance to college students who have taken out certain federal student loans by giving them the opportunity to discharge the debt in the event of a total or permanent disability. This, along with access to disability benefits, may be the help a young adult needs to succeed financially later in life.

Sources: The Social Security Administration, “Disability Planner: Benefits For A Disabled Child,” Accessed Aug. 5, 2014

The Office of the U.S. Department of Education, “Total and Permanent Disability Discharge,” Accessed Aug. 5, 2014

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