Child SSI cases after 18th birthday

Disabled children can apply for Social Security benefits under the Title 16 children’s Supplemental Security Income (child SSI) program. Children’s cases are considered differently than adult disability claims. However, after a child turns 18, Social Security applies the adult standard to decide disability. Note: children between 18 and 22 may be eligible for Disabled Adult Child benefits based on their parents’ contribution to Social Security.

What happens if a child turns 18 before Social Security decides if the child is disabled?

Here is what Social Security says on this (20 CFR 406.924):

If you attain age 18 after you file your disability application but before we make a determination or decision. For the period during which you are under age 18, we will use the rules in this section. For the period starting with the day you attain age 18, we will use the disability rules we use for adults who file new claims, in §416.920.

Put another way, Social Security will consider disability under the child standard for the portion of time the individual was under 18, and use the adult standard for the portion of time the individual was 18 or over. That means you, in effect, have to prove the case twice: once under the child standard and again under the adult standard.

This can get tricky as an individual can be disabled under the one standard but not the other.

Also, when a child was under 18 for only a short part of the total claim, there is an issue of whether it is worth doubling the analysis for the amount of amount of benefits potentially due.

Keep in mind that SSI back benefits can only be paid back to the protected filing date. Also, unless the claim was protectedly filed on the first day of the month, the benefits are rounded up to the next full month.

If a claim was filed on anything other than the first day of the month the child turns 18, there are no additional benefits available. However, the case will still be considered under both the child and adult standards of disability.

If the case was filed on the first day of the month in which the child turns 18, there is only one additional month of benefits. However, the case will be evaluated under both the adult and child standards. The same applies if the child was only under 18 for only a short period of time.

As a result, it is sometimes worthwhile to move the onset date to the date of the child’s 18th birthday. Of course I cannot give you a hard and fast rule describing when to amend the onset date. However, you should be aware of the costs and benefits so you can make an informed decision. In my Colorado disability practice, there have been times where the onset date was amended to age 18, and other times not.

  • Jemaddo

    My daughter’ father died when my daughter was 20 months old. She has been collecting benefits since that time. She will be 18 in April 2011 and finishing her senior year in HS. We received a letter from SSA instructing me to return all unused money and interest. I have only saved 1200 dollars and I’m glad that I didn’t save more if I have to return it. I had plans to buy her a car to take with her to college. What are my options?

    • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      I assume you are not asking if you can ignore the letter. :)

      Now, this article focuses on child SSI benefits; specifically what happens when for disabled children turn 18 during the application process.

      Benefits for children due to the death of a parent are covered under a different Social Security program called “auxiliary benefits.” It may seem like splitting hairs. However, it is an important difference. This article does not apply to auxiliary benefits.

      It is my understanding that children over 18 can still receive auxiliary benefits so long as they are still in high school. I have discussed this topic here: http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2010/01/can-you-get-social-security-childs-benefits-as-a-full-time-student/

      Of course, to see if this applies to your daughter’s case, I encourage you to contact your local Social Security office and/or a lawyer in your area.

      All my best!

  • http://www.socialsecurity-disability.org Disability Help

    If a child is receiving benefits, how long does it take for the claim to be re-evaluated under the adult standards after the child turns 18? Is it immediately after the child’s birthday, or does the SSA allow some time to elapse before re-evaluating?

  • Pingback: Social Security disability review for children turning 18 | Colorado Social Security Law()

  • Mike

    My daughter is 16 and severely handicapped and has been so since birth.  We make about $100k per year.  Will she be able to get SSI benefits when she turns 18?

    • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      I can only address specific circumstances for clients of my office. 

      Generally, I can suggest you look at http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2011/03/social-security-disability-benefits-for-children/
      I cannot say this will apply in your situation, but it addresses the issue you raise.

      From that post:
      INCOME AND ASSET LIMITS APPLY:Additionally, just like the adult SSI program, income and asset limits apply. One wrinkle in children’s SSI case is that Social Security looks at household income and assets (instead of just those of the child). Social Security has pages discussing how it decides whether parents’ and child’s income and resources are within allowed limits.The household financial limits sometimes make children financially ineligible for children’s SSI benefits even though they might meet the medical requirements for disability.If denied on financial grounds, parents sometimes wait to re-apply for Social Security benefits for their children until the child is 18. At 18, only the child’s income and resources are counted. However, the child is then evaluated under the adult standard for Social Security disability.

    • Ec67

      My daughter is about to turn 18 and because we made a whopping 60,000 a year she was never able to receive benefits. I will be applying for her and my question is should I wait until she is 18 or should I do it a month before or what?

  • CA atty

    Nice article, quick answer to an issue that arises more than we’d like.