Howard Kossover: SSI program eligibility may change as disabled children become adults
Q: My son will be 18 in a few months. He is disabled since birth, lives in a group home, and receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI). I am Representative Payee for his benefits and my wife and I recently were appointed as his guardians. For SSI, is there anything that I need to do prior to him becoming 18?
A: Even though administered by the Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a very different program from Social Security.
SSI pays benefits to disabled adults and disabled children who have limited income and resources.
SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. People may also be able to receive Social Security as well as SSI.
In general, since your son is younger than age 18, the original medical decision used to establish his Supplemental Security Income eligibility was based on childhood criteria.
Near age 18, expect a medical review to see if he meets adult disability requirements for benefits to continue.
SSA does not recognize power of attorney. A representative payee is appointed by Social Security to manage SSA and SSI funds of beneficiaries who are incapable of doing.
Payee responsibilities are outlined in A Guide for Representative Payees at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf.
Since you are his payee, a SSA representative will contact you for updated information for the medical review.
You will also update non-medical information, including about his income, financial resources and living arrangements.
Remember to report that you and your wife have been appointed your son’s legal guardians so that his SSI record can be updated.
Something for the future: Since your son’s disability began prior to age 22, he might become eligible for Social Security benefits upon retirement of you or your wife. See also www.socialsecurity.gov/dibplan/dqualify10.htm.
Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at email@example.com. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.