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SSI - Got SSI as a child, get it as an adult?

SSI disability and child benefits

Many disability recipients, who have been receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as a child, are surprised that they have lost their SSI benefits when they turn 18 or 19 years of age and are now wondering if they can continue to receive SSI or some type of disability benefits as an adult. What this applicant needs to consider is how the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability for an adult and how it differs from that of a child.

What is a disabled child?

To make a disability determination for a child the SSA evaluates a child’s condition and determines if it is “marked and severe.” This determination is made by comparing the child’s condition to conditions in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments or Blue Book (Child’s Listing). If the child’s condition is not listed, the SSA will decide if it “meets or exceeds” a listing. If it does not, the child is automatically denied SSI benefits.

What is a disabled adult?

To determine if an adult is disabled the main criteria is whether or not they are able to perform what the SSA terms “substantial gainful activity.” If an adult can or is working it will not matter how severe their health condition is, they will be considered disabled.

Like children, however, there are conditions and symptoms the SSA will consider automatically disabling. These conditions are listed in the adult SSA Listing of Impairments.

Why did I lose my SSI benefits?

If you lost your child SSI benefits there could be several reasons:

1.   The SSA determined you had a condition that either has improved or was not severe enough to limit your ability to work as an adult. Although some conditions may be “marked and severe” as a child and continue to limit a claimant’s ability to work, there are also some conditions that improve as one ages. One example may be ADHD. A severe case of ADHD as a child may improve over time with proper medication and counseling, and at some point the disabled child may become a coping adult who is able to perform some type of work.

2.  Your income moved above the allowable limit for Supplemental Security Income benefits. Some SSI recipients get married or receive and inheritance (or another source of income) and although their condition continues to be so severe and they can no longer work, they may no longer qualify for SSI benefits.

Can I get SSDI benefits?

Some claimants who have lost their SSI benefits are wondering if they can receive SSDI benefits. SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance is given only to claimants who have worked and paid sufficient taxes to be considered “insured” by the SSA. Most likely if you are a young adult you will not have worked enough to generate enough work credits for SSDI and will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

Bottom line

The bottom line is that if you were a disabled child but lost your SSI it may be time to attempt to work. Getting disability as an adult is tough and most applicants are denied benefits.
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