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How do SSI benefits as a minor change when 18?

If you or your child are recipients of SSI benefits as a minor but will soon turn 18,  you should prepare to be reevaluated by the Social Security Administration to continue receiving benefits. Children who turn 18 while receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will be reevaluated as adults through a redetermination. Social Security assesses adult applications for disability differently than minors. This may result in a loss of benefits, but the redetermination does consider individual circumstances when making the decision. Let’s review what to expect during this process.

Social Security will continue benefits until the child graduates from high school or two months after the child turns 19, whichever happens first. The child must also be unmarried.

The requirements that need to be met for adults and children to receive disability are based on meeting or equaling a listing from a catalog that Social Security maintains. Adults who do not meet a listing are awarded disability benefits if their ability to do work is impaired. Children may be granted disability as a result of inadequate functioning. Benefits for adults focuses on the element of work, but since children are not expected to support themselves, child requirements focus on functioning level.

When completing a redetermination, Social Security will assess the child’s ability to work based on the following areas. First, Social Security will look at how the child functions in educational programs, like school. Social Security considers difficulty paying attention in class, interactions with other classmates, and any physical limitations. Second, Social Security considers community involvement including on-the-job training, work experience, and volunteer jobs. The third item considered is work-related stress. Social Security will take statements from acquaintances and other sources close to the child to determine how the child handles duress.

Evidence used in cases for minors also differs from adults. For minor, Social Security reviews medical records to identify medical evidence of the impairment, but the administration also must know how the disability impacts the child’s abilities. Statements from the child’s doctors indicate how the child’s impairment will affect the ability to work. Social Security will speak with other healthcare professionals like social workers, occupational therapists, chiropractors, or others that have provided some level of care to the child to identify if an impairment will impact the child’s ability to work. Social Security will also evaluate statements from family and community members and the child’s school. Teachers and other faculty see the child on a regular basis and may have insight into the child’s behavior and activities that other professionals would not see.

Keep in mind that childhood disability benefits can continue after age 18 if the disability began before age 22.

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