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What happens to my SSI benefit when I turn 18?

If you have been receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as a child for a serious medical condition the SSA awarded you those benefits under the following requirements:

• You were under the age of 18 or you were under the age of 22 and a student attending school.

• You had a physical or mental health condition that was expected to last for at least 12 continuous months.

• Your condition was so severe that it resulted in marked and severe limitation.

• Your family’s income and resource level must meet the requirements of the SSI program.

What happens when you turn 18 years of age?

The Social Security Administration assumes that you have entered legal “adulthood” and you are no longer a child.

The Social Security Administration has different criteria to determine whether an adult is disabled. To win disability benefits as an adult you will need to prove the following:

• Your condition is so severe it is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months
• Your condition does not allow you to perform substantial gainful activity
• Your resources and income must meet the requirements of the SSI program

So when you turn 18, assuming you are not in school, you will have to have your case reviewed by the SSA to ensure that you are still disabled according to the adult disability rules.

How does the SSA make a disability determination for an adult?

To make a disability determination for an adult the SSA uses what they call the sequential evaluation process. The sequential evaluation process is a series of five questions.

1. Are you working?

Claimants who are working and earning more than $1,000 a month in 2011 will generally be determined not to have a disability and will be denied Social Security Disability benefits.

If you are not engaged in substantial gainful activity the Social Security Administration proceeds to the next step.

2. Is your disability or condition "severe"?

The SSA will evaluate whether they believe your condition interferes with your work. If they do not believe it is severe they will deny your disability claim. If they do believe it is severe they will proceed to step 3.

3. Is your condition found in the SSA Listing of Impairments?

The Listing of Medical Impairments is a list of all of the major body systems and the disabilities, diseases or conditions that the SSA believes may make a claimant automatically disabled. If your condition is on the list the SSA will determine if it is as severe as the listed condition. If it is, they will find you are disabled. If not, they will
proceed to step 4.

4. Can you do the work you did previously?

If your condition is not on the Listing of Impairments and the SSA decides it may impair or interfere with your ability to perform your current job they will proceed to step 5, if not, they will deny you Social Security Disability benefits.

5. Can you do any other type of work?

If the SSA determines you cannot perform your current job or any job you have done in the past and you are unable to retrain for new work given you medical conditions, age, work history, education, and work skills, they will approve your disability claim. If the SSA believes you could perform past work or retrain for new employment they will deny disability benefits.

If you are 18 years old and you are concerned that you may lose your SSI benefit, contact the SSA to at 1-800-772-1213 to discuss your SSI claim.