The Work Without Worry Act Explained

On June 17, 2021, the United States Senate Committee on Finance passed a bipartisan bill called the Work Without Worry Act. The goal is to protect Americans with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits and also want to work. Under the Act, individuals with disabilities can work to their full potential without having to worry about losing their potential benefits. 

According to the Finance Committee Chairman, Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon,

Americans with disabilities and their families rely on Social Securitys earned benefits. This bill lets families know that working – not (sic) matter how long or at what level of earnings – will not mean their child with a disability will lose out on a higher Social Security benefit in the future.”

Who Would Be  Affected by the New Act

The Social Security Administration (SSA) created a Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit for adults who are diagnosed with a severe medical condition that began before age 22. As one of Social Security’s group of family protections, the DAC helps individuals who are adults, but who continue to be dependent on their parents because of a life-long disability. 

A person becomes eligible for DAC benefits after age 18, but only when their parent begins receiving retirement or disability benefits from Social Security, or upon the parent’s death. These benefits are based on their parent’s earnings and contributions to Social Security. 

To Work or Not To Work

Before the Work Without Worry Act, an adult who qualified for DAC benefits and wanted to find employment upon entering adult life risked losing future DAC benefits which could be critical to pay for future care and living expenses. The key was whether or not the parent was already receiving Social Security benefits when the adult child started working.  Until this legislation becomes law, these rules are still in effect.

If the parent had begun receiving benefits when the adult child found work, the future DAC benefits were protected. If the parent was not yet receiving benefits, the child might earn too much income and lose the right to receive future DAC benefits once the parent started receiving benefits.  

How The Work Without Worry Act Would Protects Adults With Disabilities

The new Act provides financial security for DAC recipients by allowing them to work and earn money without affecting the right to receive benefits. A DAC recipient who was diagnosed with an eligible, serious medical condition before age 22 is now eligible to receive benefits based upon their parent’s Social Security earnings and work history regardless of when the parent retires, even if the DAC recipient earns income on their own. 

The goal is to encourage Americans to seek work as they are able, without fear of losing important benefits. Under the Work Without Worry Act, an individual who qualifies for DAC benefits has the option to claim Social Security benefits under the parent’s work history, or their own work history, whichever is greater. 

Keeping Track of New Laws and How They Affect Our Clients

When new laws impact our clients with special needs and their families, we take pride in sharing the information and explaining the changes to help you plan accordingly. If you have any questions about the Work Without Worry Act or other laws or benefits, we are here to help.

Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois exclusively limited to providing compassionate special needs legal and future planning to guide our fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental illness down the road to peace of mind. For more information, email us at or call 866-TO-RUBIN.