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Many factors could influence whether or not your child will continue to remain eligible for Social Security Income (SSI) Benefits once they become 18.
Once your child turns 18, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reevaluates their disability based on a different standard than when they were younger. Prior to age 18, a beneficiary is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment expected to last at least 12 month that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” However, after the beneficiaries 18th birthday, their impairment must “result in the inability to so any substantial gainful activity.” Since the adult disability standard is a higher one, many fail to meet it and therefore, are dropped from receiving benefits.
Fortunately, when a beneficiary turns 18, the SSI financial requirements often become easier. When the child turns 18, SSA looks at the beneficiary’s own income and resources instead of their parents’ financial record. Since many SSI beneficiaries who receive benefits as a child do not have any other sources of income and do not own large assets, they most likely will not have any problem qualifying financially on their own. There have also been some cases in which a disabled child, who was not qualified for SSI due to their parents’ financial record, became eligible after turning 18 due to their own financial records.
It can also be the case that an SSI beneficiary who fails to meet the new disability or financial requirements when turning 18 will not lose their benefit. If a beneficiary participates in an approved vocational rehabilitation program or special education program from before turning 18, they can continue to qualify under the pre-18 rules. Also, SSI beneficiaries who regularly attend school are allowed to exclude $1,780 of income a month, up to $7,180 a year, from their countable income for SSI purposes.
Because these rules can be complicated, it is imperative to meet with a qualified special needs planner well in advance of your child’s 18th birthday to learn how turning 18 will affect their SSI benefits.