Ask Larry

Can My Son's Disability Onset Date Be Changed So That He Can Receive Benefits Off My Account?

My son got on SSDI at 28 on his own work record for a major mental illness condition. He is now 41. He was disabled before age 22 but did not get SSDI until a social worker at a hospital assisted us in getting him benefits at 28 on his own work record. I recall her saying that if he did not have enough credits she could get child benefits. I was told at the time that he could not get child benefits because I was not receiving my SS yet. So he has been receiving off his own record for 13 years. 1 year ago he was incarcerated. and his SSDI was put on hold. Since that time I started receiving my own SS benefits. He will be getting out of prison in 1 month. I called SS and asked about him receiving off my record when he gets out of prison. I am his payee by the way. I was told that SS needs to see if he is elegible under my record first and since he was disabled as a child I would need to come in and go over his records and get that fact established. Later when I called to come in, I was told he was not eligible to get child benefits since SS had determined he was disabled at 28 when he first applied. Since I have received conflicting info I would like to know who is correct. Can his onset of disability date be changed to child so he can receive additional benefits off my account. This would certainly help since his benefit is so small on his own record he could not make it without my support. If I needs a lawyer, can you recommend.


I can't recommend a lawyer, but what your son would need to establish in order to qualify for disabled adult child's (DAC) benefits is that he was disabled according to Social Security regulations prior to age 22. Social Security's previous determination that entitled your son to Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits at age 28 would not bar them from establishing that he was disabled prior to age 22, provided that he did not perform substantial gainful work (SGA) after age 22.

If your son did perform SGA level work after reaching age 22, though, Social Security would disallow a claim for DAC benefits regardless of your son's medical impairment(s). In other words, if your son performed substantial work after age 22, as far as Social Security's rules are concerned that would prove that he didn't become disabled from an impairment that began prior to age 22.

Social Security makes their judgment on whether or not a person's earnings are SGA based on their average monthly earnings. The current monthly earnings guideline for SGA is $1260, but that amount is adjusted each year and it would have been significantly lower back when your son was working. The yearly SGA levels can be found in the following reference from Social Security's operation's manual:

However, even if a person's earns more than the SGA guideline, considerations such as impairment related expenses and employer subsidies can potentially factor in to Social Security's determination. I don't have enough details about your son's work and earnings history to be able to advise you, but he may want to go ahead and pursue a claim for DAC benefits even if you've been told that he wouldn't qualify. Filing a claim would require Social Security to evaluate the evidence of whether or not your son meets the eligibility requirements for DAC benefits, and if they disallow his claim he would then have appeal rights.

Best, Jerry

Sep 16 2020 - 1:13pm
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