Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility rules for children are different than the eligibility rules for adults. Concerning minors, the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates the disability of the child as well as their income and resources, which includes the income of any member of their household. The rules for determining SSI for minors take into account their disability, the extent to which it causes functional limitations, the length of time their condition will persist and, as mentioned before, their income. The same is true of SSI applications for adults, but the focus is more on whether or not the disability will impede the claimant’s ability to work in the national economy.
The expectation for a minor to work and be able to support themselves is lower than the expectation for adults to do the same. A child who has not finished grade school education and/or is too young to have been trained in a skill to apply to a job is not held to the same standard as an adult who may have had that opportunity. Even with medical disabilities, a person who has received grade school education, specialized education, and/or technical training may have the functional ability to work in the national economy and support themselves. For this reason, once a minor who is a recipient of SSI turns 18 years old, SSA will reevaluate their case based on adult standards. This is called Age 18-Redetermination.
Historically, one-third of children lose their benefits after reaching age 18. When a minor receiving SSI is approaching the age of 18, SSA will contact them asking for information regarding doctors’ visits, current medications, work activity, counseling, school attendance etc. Once reevaluation is complete, SSA will send a letter outlining their decision.
If they decide to stop benefits there is an appeal process. A claimant can appeal within 60 days from the date the letter was received. If appealed within 10 days, there is an option to ask that benefits payments continue while the appeal is reviewed. However, be cautious of this option; if the claim is denied again SSA may require repayment of the money that was given during the appeal.
SSA offers a few work incentive programs that assist in developing a claimant’s independence. While enrolled in these programs, benefits can continue. Some of these programs are Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS). A complete list and explanation of these programs can be found on the SSA website. Navigating this process can be difficult, especially if attempting to go at it alone. Call our office or submit an online inquiry so that we can help you during this process or if you just have questions.