Marriage and Social Security: The Case of Disabled Adult Child Beneficiaries

27 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2020 Last revised: 31 Oct 2021

See all articles by David Weaver

David Weaver

University of South Carolina

Date Written: December 20, 2019


In 2018, the Social Security Administration paid benefits to 1.1 million Disabled Adult Child (DAC) beneficiaries. Adults qualify for DAC benefits if they have a disability that began before age 22 and have a parent who is deceased, disabled, or retired. Social Security benefits are provided to these individuals because their parents worked in Social Security covered employment and because these individuals were unlikely to earn benefits on their own work records due to a disability that began early in life (prior to age 22). DAC benefits generally terminate if the beneficiary marries. In this preliminary draft, I document the characteristics of the overall DAC population and the DAC population that marries. I find that financial incentives matter in the marriage decision, with DACs more likely to marry if they would lose only small benefit amounts or would have their lost Social Security benefits replaced by increased payments from the Supplemental Security Income program. The study concludes with a discussion of policy options and the role of research demonstrations in quantifying the effects of options.

Keywords: Social Security, Marriage, Disability, Supplemental Security Income

JEL Classification: H00, I00, J12

Suggested Citation

Weaver, David, Marriage and Social Security: The Case of Disabled Adult Child Beneficiaries (December 20, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

David Weaver (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina ( email )

United States

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