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SSI benefits what happens when I turn 18?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have been disabled since I was a young child. I have heard, however, that when I turn 18 there is a good chance that I could lose my SSI disability benefits. Why is this and what do I need to do to continue to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?”

Age 18 and the reevaluation of your SSI benefits

Children who are approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits have been determined disabled under the SSA’s definition prescribed to children. Specifically, the SSA has determined that they are unable to work, they have limited income and resources, they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and the impairment is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

When you become an adult or turn 18 years of age, however, the SSA will reevaluate your condition to assess whether you are still considered disabled under the adult definition for disability, specifically, whether you have the ability to work.

Meeting a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments

The SSA has two methods for determining whether a person is disabled. First, an individual may be considered disabled if they can prove that their condition meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA listing of impairments.

There is both an adult and a child listing (although there are some childhood listings which do not correspond to an adult listing). With this in mind, if you were approved for SSI based on a childhood listing, there is a strong chance that when your case is re-evaluated the SSA will determine you are still disabled under the corresponding adult listing.

What if my condition does not meet a listing?

Claimants whose condition does not meet a listing may also, however, be determined disabled as a child if they have marked or severe impairments in at least one aspect of their functioning. As an adult, however, the SSA will re-evaluate their case to determine if they have the residual functional capacity to work.

To make this determination the SSA will review information from their doctors, and other health care professionals (i.e. physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, social workers), family and community members, teachers and other educators within the school.

The SSA will also evaluate what types of programs the child has been involved in, how they did in school, how well they got along with others, and whether they have any other issues which would make it difficult for them to transition into the workforce.

What does this mean for my SSI case?

If you have done well in school, you get along with others, you have held a part-time job, and everyone the SSA talks to believes you have the capability to work, assuming you do not have a severe health condition which meets an adult listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments, you are likely to lose your SSI benefits and the SSA will expect you to find employment.

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