Question: What happens when a child receiving SSI reaches the age of 18?
At age 18, young adults who were eligible for SSI as children are evaluated to determine if they qualify for benefits under the adult definition of disability. This redetermination process is essential to many youth who continue to need the support of SSI.
For children, disability is determined by “marked or severe functional limitations,” whereas for adults, disability is measured against the ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), an income level set annually by SSA. Due to this, an age 18 redetermination is considered a new medical decision for eligibility based on adult standards. Using SOAR, we can help youth with this redetermination process by writing a comprehensive Medical Summary Report regarding the applicant’s functioning with respect to performing substantial gainful activity and completing an SSA-1696, Appointment of Representative form.
Question: I'm working with a youth in foster care who is receiving SSI and will soon be turning 18. When can he apply for SSI as an adult?
In general, a child/youth can apply for adult benefits the month before they turn 18.
However, there is an exception for disabled youth transitioning out of foster care. Disabled youth receiving Title IV-E federal foster care benefits usually cannot become eligible for SSI until foster care payments have stopped. Even if the individual had been receiving SSI as a child, a new determination must be made under the adult rules once that person is 18. To help with this transition, SSA will accept an SSI application from a youth up to 180 days before his or her foster care eligibility will end due to age. You can start collecting all of the youth's medical records and preparing the application materials. Then you would have the completed SOAR packet ready to go as soon as they are able to submit the application.