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Why is there a SSI reevaluation at 18 years old?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have been receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits since I was a little kid. I have recently turned 18 and now the SSA wants to take them away. What is going on?”

Supplemental Security Income is provided to the blind, aged, and disabled who are unable to perform work. Children may also qualify for SSI benefits if they are under the age of 18 and have impairments that result in “marked and severe functional limitations.”

getting-disability-benefits

Both adults and children, however, will only qualify for SSI benefits if they have limited income and resources, which includes resources and income from their parents or various other types of support they receive.

According to the Social Security Administration, children who are receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits must have their eligibility redetermined when they reach 18 years of age. This disability evaluation, however, will be completed using the definition for disability as defined for adults not children.

How does disability differ for adults vs. children?


As mentioned above disability for a child is defined as marked and severe limitations. Disabled adults, however, must prove that they have a severe health condition which is expected to last 12 continuous months and eliminates their ability to perform any SGA (substantial gainful activity).

Because there are some children who have marked and severe limitations but may be able to find employment within the national economy when they reach 18 years of age,  when the child reaches 18 years old the SSA will reevatue their claim using the adult criteria and treat their SSI evaluation as if it was a new SSI application within the disability evaluation process.

How do they reevaluate my SSI case?

If you are a child receiving SSI benefits the SSA will contact you about a month before your 18th birthday and notify you that you will be required to go through the redetermination process.

The SSA field offices will gather all the necessary information, including functional reports which detail your medical sources, work history, educational background, and the rehabilitation and support services you receive. All information is then forwarded to the state disability determination service (DDS) who will make an initial determination for the SSA.

Now, it’s important to note that this reevaluation is not voluntary. In fact, if the SSA cannot get the information they need, they cannot contact you, or you do not assist them with their redetermination, they have the right to cancel your SSI benefits for failure to cooperate.

What are my rights if my SSI benefits are terminated?


Just like other SSI applicants who have their application denied, if your SSI benefits are terminated you have the right appeal the disability denial. There are three levels of denials within the SSA administration: (1) reconsideration (at the DDS), (2) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and (3) Appeals Council.

If your application is denied at each step in the appeal’s process, you may appeal your SSI case through the court system, starting with a federal district court and (potentially) ending with the U.S. Supreme Court (this is very rare).

Bottom line:

If you are almost 18 years of age it’s time to familiarize yourself with the disability process. Review what it means to be a disabled adult, talk to your doctor and determine if you have enough medical information to prove you are not able to perform work.

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