In a prior blog, I wrote about securing SSI for my son Josh. A few years back my husband retired. While many people wait till 70 to collect their Social Security benefit, in an effort to maximize on their income, I encouraged my husband to take it at 65. The reason? I wanted our son Josh to transition from SSI to the SSDI Childhood Disability Benefit (CDB). With the Childhood Disability Benefit, Josh would receive 50% of my husband’s Social Security benefit. If my husband should pass, the Childhood Disability Benefit would increase to 75%.

In our case, CDB has some advantages over SSI:

1) Unlike SSI which deducts a dollar for every two dollars earned, the CDB does not.
2) This benefit is not needs-based, so the Adult Child can amass more than $2000 without losing their benefit.
3) After two years, the Adult Child is eligible for Medicare.

For a child with ASD, Social Security is part of your child’s financial safety net. In our case, 50% of my husband’s benefit was greater than SSI. In addition, as Josh was preparing to graduate from CSUF, the employment flexibility would prove useful in the future.

To Qualify For CDB

This benefit is available to adults with a disability that began before age 22. It requires the parent to have paid in amply to Social Security and to be either collecting Social Security or be deceased. For details see this pamphlet: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf

Transitioning from SSI to CDB

In making the transition to CDB, I first contacted our advisor, Jim Huyck to make sure I understood the process. When my husband was ready to apply for Social Security, I accompanied him to the Social Security office. The representative at Social Security noticed that our son was on SSI, and immediately filed the paperwork to transition him to the Child Disability Benefit.
The one hitch, was that Josh would no longer be receiving SSI and therefore he would no longer receive Medi-Cal funding through Social Security. I was told that we needed to go to the Social Services office to apply for Medi-Cal.

The application process for Medi-Cal through Social Services was simple. I had to bring Josh’s financial paperwork and proof of citizenship to the Social Services office. Social Services reviewed the material and approved Josh’s transition such that the funding of Medi-Cal would now be through Social Services. Josh was assigned a case number and a case worker. For details on the process, please refer to https://www.ssa.ocgov.com/health/medical/apply.

Reporting Wages when Receiving CDB

Like SSI, it is important to report your wages when receiving CDB. Unlike SSI, the rules for how wages are treated are different. This is a bit confusing and to be honest, since Josh has not cycled through this process, I am not sure I fully understand it. Below is a summary:

  • CDB recipients, who are making less than “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), will continue to receive their disability benefits while working. In 2020 SGA is $1,260 per month
  • Once the recipient’s earnings are higher than $880 for nine months during a 60-month period, the Social Security Administration will review the recipient’s income record
  • If the average earnings during the trial work period hit or surpassed the substantial gainful activity threshold of $1,260 then the benefits will likely stop. But if the average earnings during the trial work period are below that amount, then benefits will continue.
  • If the recipient can work while continuing to receive benefits, they can enter what is known as an extended period of eligibility. After the trial work period, they have 36 months during which they can receive benefits for any month in which their earnings fall below the substantial gainful activity threshold.

This month, June marks the two-year anniversary since Josh went on CDB. I will write a separate blog on the process of enrolling Josh in Medicare.