Applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When a Child Who Is Legally Blind Turns 18

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based benefit program that offers financial assistance to individuals who have serious health conditions or disabilities such as blindness or low vision. If your child who is blind or low vision has applied for SSI, there are certain things you need to know about turning 18 and making the transition to adulthood.

Age-18 Redetermination for Teenagers Who Are Blind or Low Vision

If your child was approved for SSI benefits and is now receiving monthly payments, it is important to familiarize yourself with the changes that will occur as he or she gets older—most importantly, age-18 redetermination.

When your child first filed for SSI benefits, he or she was evaluated based on childhood eligibility requirements. When your teenager turns 18 however, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider him or her to be an adult and will conduct a “redetermination.” They will reevaluate your child’s claim using adult eligibility requirements.

SSI Eligibility for Adults with Vision Loss

The first aspect of SSI eligibility affected by redetermination is financial eligibility. Child applicants are evaluated based on their parent or guardian’s income and resources. When applicants turn 18, the SSA evaluates them based on their own income. Because it is not likely that your child earns more money than you, this typically results in a higher monthly payment.

The second aspect of SSI eligibility that is affected by redetermination is medical eligibility. Both adults and children are evaluated based on the standards found in the SSA’s blue book. The blue book contains listings for all potentially disabling conditions and is split into two sections—one for children and one for adults. When your child turns 18, it is important to consult the adult blue book listings to see that your child meets the adult standards. Vision loss is covered in the following section: listing 2.00—Special Senses and Speech.

If your child does not meet the adult income or medical requirements, he or she will not continue to receive SSI benefits. For children who meet these requirements, it is important that you continue to collect updated medical records and financial statements in preparation for redetermination.

Children who were denied disability benefits as a child due to financial reasons, it may be worth it to re-apply at age 18. This is because eligibility will be based on his or her own income, rather than the income of a parent or guardian.

Preparing for Redetermination

In the months leading up to your child’s 18th birthday, the SSA will send you a letter containing information regarding age-18 redetermination. It is important that you follow all instructions carefully and respond quickly to any requests made by the SSA.

As part of the redetermination process, your child will be required to attend an interview at your local Social Security office. At this time, you will be able to present medical and financial records to validate your child’s claim. For a complete list of necessary items, visit the Adult Disability Checklist (PDF).

Once the interview is complete, the SSA will send you a letter containing the details of their decision. If approved, your child will continue to receive SSI benefits. If denied, you are allowed to appeal the SSA’s decision.

For more information regarding age-18 redetermination, visit www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog/redetermination.

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