Currently, individuals who acquired a severe disability prior to age 22 are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) based on a parent’s work record.
However, if a young person with a disability then wishes to pursue employment opportunities as they transition into adulthood, they may put themselves as risk of losing another benefit, the Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit.
Work Without Worry Act
In June 2023, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and a group of fellow senators reintroduced a bipartisan bill, known as the Work Without Worry Act.
Designed to allow adults with serious, lifelong disabilities to work without becoming ineligible for certain benefits, the legislation could aid about 6,000 individuals with disabilities over the coming decade if it passes.
The Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit begins when the qualifying disabled individual’s parent dies or begins receiving retirement or disability benefits. Like SSDI, it is based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.
Imagine Mandy, a 23-year-old woman who was born with cerebral palsy. Her parents are not yet collecting Social Security benefits. Mandy secures a job as a postal worker. But her monthly earnings – or substantial gainful activity (SGA) – hit above a specific limit. Under current law, this permanently disqualifies her from receiving a DAC benefit once her parents begin receiving Social Security.
The Work Without Worry Act seeks to keep individuals like Mandy eligible for DAC benefits for life, no matter how much they earn through work after the age of 22.
“Working families deserve the peace of mind that they will not lose out on their Social Security benefit in the future just because they want to work, and this bill would provide exactly that,” Wyden said in a news release about the legislation. “I will work tirelessly to get this bill over the finish line.”
“Every individual – disabled or otherwise – deserves the freedom to work without worry to secure their own financial future,” added Cassidy. “Government programs should never disincentivize an American from bettering their lot in life. We need to fix this.”
Read a one-pager fact sheet about the Work Without Worry Act.