Background The aim of this study was to investigate whether an unfavourable psychosocial developmental trajectory while growing up with childhood cancer is related to a smaller likelihood of labour participation in adult life. Methods A total of 53 childhood cancer survivors (CCS) with and 313 CCS without disability benefits, and 508 peers from the general Dutch population (reference group) completed the Course of Life Questionnaire (CoLQ) about the achievement of psychosocial developmental milestones. Differences between the three groups were tested by conducting analysis of variance with contrasts (scale scores CoLQ) and logistic regression analysis (individual milestones). Effect sizes and odds ratios were calculated. Results Compared with the reference group, both CCS with and CCS without benefits reported lower scale scores with respect to social and psychosexual development. CCS with disability benefits had lower social (d = - 0.6; p < 0.001) and psychosexual (d = -0.4; p < 0.01) scale scores than the CCS without disability benefits. CCS with disability benefits scored less favourably (p < 0.01) than peers from the general population on 14 out of 22 psychosocial milestones whereas the number was only six for those without disability benefits. Conclusions CCS with an unfavourable developmental trajectory while growing up were more likely to apply for disability benefits in adulthood than CCS with a more favourable development. Early recognition and support are warranted. Further research is needed on risk factors of application for disability benefits. In addition, research should show whether stimulating the achievement of developmental milestones while growing up will create conditions for a better labour market position.