What is the “age-18 redetermination” process for SSI purposes?

Children across the nation who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will have their eligibility for benefits reviewed upon reaching age 18. Known as the “age-18 redetermination” the Social Security Administration (SSA) will send the SSI recipient a letter requesting certain information regarding the recipient’s disability.

For example, the SSA may need the names of any medication the recipient takes, information regarding hospital stays and surgical procedures and information regarding doctor appointments. The SSA might also request information regarding whether the recipient has been working, attends counseling or therapy and information regarding the recipient’s schooling or special classes the recipient attends, as well as the names of teachers who are familiar with the recipient’s disability.

Physicians and other trained SSA staff will consider the information provided to determine if the recipient meets the disability requirements for adults. Once a decision is made, the SSA will inform the recipient via a letter if the recipient’s benefits will be continued. If they are discontinued, the recipient can appeal the SSA’s decision in writing within 60 days of receiving the SSA’s letter.

The age-18 redetermination can be very concerning for those who received SSI as a child, and feel that they still need to receive SSI benefits as an adult. But, Section 301 payments may be available to some recipients, even if they are no longer eligible for SSI benefits, following their age-18 redetermination.

To qualify for such payments, the recipient must be already participating in a vocational rehabilitation program. The SSA will review the program the recipient is participating in to determine whether, after the program ends, the recipient will be able to work and will no longer need benefits. Some examples include individualized education programs for recipients between the ages of 18 through 21, a vocational rehabilitation agency or support services that utilizes an individualized plan for employment or a written service plan with an educational facility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

If all requirements for Section 301 payments are met, the recipient will continue receiving benefits until he or she stops participating in the program. However, whether it is during the initial age-18 redetermination, an appeal to the SSA’s decision or applying for Section 301 Payments, it may help to first seek legal advice, to ensure one understands their rights during each step of the process.