Your Social Security Advisor

Father Seeks Benefits for Disabled Adult Son – Ask Rusty

social security-rusty-marry-girlfriendDear Rusty:  We have a 100% disabled son, disabled from birth. He is now 35 years old and receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). My wife and I plan to retire in the next two years and start drawing our Social Security benefits; my wife intends to apply in January of 2020 and I will apply later that year, probably in August 2020. When can our son start receiving Social Security Disability benefits? Will it be half of the parent’s benefit? My wife’s benefit is less than mine, so will his be based on her amount or my amount? If we start his SS disability in January when my wife applies, will his benefit increase when I claim my benefits? What is our best strategy?  Signed:  Anxious Father

Dear Anxious Father: Your son is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits as soon as either of you claim your Social Security benefit, and he will be entitled to 50% of the amount you are due at your full retirement age (subject to the Family Maximum). If your wife files for her Social Security benefit first, when she files her application (about 3 months before she wishes benefits to start) there is a section where she will be asked to list any dependent(s) who are either minors or disabled, and she should put your son’s full name in this section. When your wife files, she should separately file an SSDI application on your son’s behalf. Even though it is a new SSDI application, your son will not need to go through the normal SSDI determination process; they will adopt his existing SSI determination as evidence of his disability. But if his SSDI benefit is more than $770/month, his SSI will stop; if it’s less than $770/month he’ll draw both to receive that total. Then when you apply for your own Social Security benefit in August, you should file another SSDI application for your son to switch him to his increased benefit based upon your record.

As an FYI, the “Family Maximum” applies whenever 2 or more people are receiving benefits based upon the same worker’s record, which will be the case if your wife also will get a spousal benefit from your record when you apply in August 2020. She will get a spousal benefit if 50% of your benefit at your FRA is more than her own SS benefit at her FRA.  The formula for the Family Maximum is somewhat complex, but to simplify, the total benefits from your work record for all beneficiaries can’t be more than 150% to 180% of your “Primary Insurance Amount” (or “PIA” – your benefit amount at your full retirement age). If the usual dependent benefits exceed the Family Maximum, the family maximum amount is proportionally divided among your dependents.

This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website ( or email us at [email protected].

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

What happens in this scenario if dad passes away to the benefit of the spouse and disabled adult? Is the family maximum redistributed to them? And how is the disabled adult’s benefit now calculated? Is there a step up to the Dad’s earning record? What would be the best strategy for spouse and adult child if dad were to pass away first?

Keith Rock
4 years ago


In “Father Seeks Benefits for Disabled Adult Son – Ask Rusty” where a disabled adult son will claim SSDI against his father’s SS benefit – you say:
“But if his SSDI benefit is more than $770/month, his SSI will stop”

Will the disabled adult son also lose Medicaid and be moved to Medicare? Medicare will cost the son about $134 per month for Medicare Part-B, perhaps $40 per month for Part-D, $50 to $150 for some type of Medi-gap plus copays and deductibles, etc. Or perhaps the disabled adult son would be better off on a Medicare Advantage HMO type plan?

So if the disabled adult son is going to receive $771 per month from SSDI and loose his SSI and Medicaid – the father should not claim Social Security until he absolutely is required to – age 70?

Perhaps the issue is different in Texas – than Medicaid requirements in other states?

4 years ago
Reply to  Keith Rock

He’s likely still be eligible for Medicaid based upon his disability, but, as you noted, the criteria for Medicaid varies from state to state.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x