April 4-13, 2016 is “My Social Security Week.” To mark it, here is the first in a regular series of Q&As with Kristen Alberino, veteran public affairs specialist with the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Quincy. They’re based on actual parent questions about SSI (Supplemental Security Income) we’ve fielded at Exceptional Lives.
Q. My 17-year old son is currently on SSI. Do I need to reapply with him once he turns 18?
A. YES. In the SSI program, a child becomes an adult at age 18. At that point, we review each case to see if a child who is getting SSI still qualifies under the adult rules. There are medical and non-medical (financial) guidelines that we review. We call this the “redetermination process.”To start the process, Social Security will send you a letter in the mail. It usually arrives within about 12 months of your child’s 18th birthday. There will be a few forms attached for you and your son to fill out and mail back. These include the “Continuing Disability Review (CDR) Report” and the “Adult Disability Report.”This helps us gather updated medical records and other information so we can review your son’s case. If you need help filling the forms out, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office in person. If you visit, you can’t schedule an appointment for this type of in-person help, so when you arrive you may have to wait.Once we have the filled-out forms, we’ll then use the adult disability rules to see if your son still qualifies for SSI. The adult rules are different. They look at how your son’s illness, injury, or condition limits his ability to work. (The child rules focus on how your son’s disability limits his ability to do the same types of day-to-day activities as other children his age.)Medical examiners from a state agency we work with called Disability Determination Services review the forms for each case. If they need more information, they’ll contact you. If they determine that your son qualifies under the adult disability rules, he’ll continue to get SSI. If they determine that he no longer qualifies under the adult rules, he won’t. If you don’t agree with that decision, you have the right to appeal.During redetermination, we will also ask you for updated financial information. We do this for two reasons:
To make sure your son remains within SSI’s financial guidelines after he turns 18, AND
To give him the right payment amount.
He could get a higher SSI payment, because when a child turns 18, Social Security no longer factors in the income and resources of the parent(s) when figuring out SSI benefits. We count only the young adult’s income and resources. This is exactly why many children with disabilities start qualifying for SSI only when they turn 18.Watch this space for future Q&As with Social Security’s Kristen Alberino. To learn more about SSI for children, visit www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/ssi.html or visit the free Exceptional Lives SSI Guide.