Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I recently turned eighteen years of age, and I was notified by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that they were terminating my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. I am not sure I understand why or how they can do this since my condition has not improved.”
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) overview
Supplemental Security Income or SSI is given to children who have a qualifying disability. Specifically, the child must have a physical or mental condition which causes “marked and severe functional” limitations. The condition must be expected to last for at least 12 continuous months. Finally, the child cannot be working and making too much money, and if living with their parents, their parent’s income and resources must meet the required limits for SSI.
Why would I lose SSI benefits when I turn 18 years of age?
You mentioned that the SSA had notified you that you would be losing your SSI benefits. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Although the SSA keeps a listing of medical condition that they consider disabling for children, this listing and disability standards are different for adults.
For example, to be considered disabled you will no longer have to prove that you have marked and severe limitations, but rather that you have a medically determinable impairment which is so severe that you cannot engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
What happens to your SSI benefits when you turn 18 years of age?
If you are currently receiving SSI benefits the SSA will reevaluate your case when you turn 18. This process is called a “redetermination of benefits.” If you were receiving benefits because your condition was so severe that it met a listing on the SSA Childhood Blue Book, there is a strong likelihood that there is a corresponding condition in the SSA Adult Blue Book and you will retain your SSI benefits.
Issues arise for claimants, however, who are receiving benefits for conditions which do not have a corresponding listing on the SSA Adult Blue Book. If this is the case, you will need prove that your condition is as severe as an adult listing or does not allow you to work.
Steps to strengthen your SSI case:
If you believe your benefits may be in jeopardy you will need to take some proactive steps. First, talk to the SSA and set up a review with the Disability Determination Services Office. Make sure you are regularly seeing a doctor and that your doctor provides evidence that you cannot work.
Other professionals can also provide insight about your condition including school counselors, therapists, social workers, and family and community leaders. The goal of any information gathered is to prove that your impairment is so severe that you not able to maintain full-time employment.
Individuals may lose their SSI benefits when they turn 18 years of age. This is especially true if you qualified for SSI for a condition which does not have an equivalent listing in the SSA Adult Listing of Impairments. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about your rights or if the SSA has told you that your SSI benefits will be terminated.
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