Supplemental Security Income For Children After Age 18

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that pays benefits to disabled people (including children) and aged who have low income and low resources. (Read this online publication for more details about the SSI program:

Once it has been determined that a child has a disabling condition and meets the low income and resource requirement, they begin receiving SSI benefits. Benefits are reviewed periodically. Sometimes children are not eligible for SSI at all until they reach age 18 because of their parents’ income. Some of the parents’ income is counted as the child’s income because it is used for the child’s basic living costs. At age 18, we no longer count the parent’s income and the child should apply for benefits.  Since they are age 18, they must meet the disability requirements of an adult.

Children whose parents have low income and resources and are disabled may be able to receive SSI while under age 18. At age 18, we review the situation to see if the child can meet the adult disability requirements. We will send you a letter to ask for the following
information about your disability:
• Names of any medicines;
• Hospital stays and surgeries;
• Visits to doctors and clinics;
• Work activity;
• Counseling and therapy;
• Schools and special classes or tutoring; and
Teachers and counselors who have
knowledge of your condition.

Doctors and other trained staff will
decide if you meet the disability rules
for adults. Our disability rules for adults
are different from our disability rules for
children. Historically, about one-third of
children lose their SSI eligibility following
the age-18 redetermination.
When we decide, we will write and let
you know our decision. Our letter also
will explain your right to appeal our
decision — that is, ask us to look at your
case again. You must send a written
appeal to Social Security within 60
days from the date you receive your

Earnings and the Age-18

Unlike in a new application for SSI,
earning above the substantial gainful
activity1 level in a month will not
automatically make you ineligible for
SSI during your age-18 redetermination.
We will make a decision about whether
1 Social Security considers your monthly earnings to
evaluate whether your work activity is at a level of
substantial gainful activity. you meet the other medical and
non-medical criteria to receive SSI.
We will also consider what your level
of functioning in your past work says
about your ability to work in the national
economy. If you are able to work at
the substantial gainful activity level
only because of SSI work incentives
or other supports, that information
will be used in our determination. The
current year’s substantial gainful activity
amounts (blind and non-blind amounts)
can be found in The Red Book – A
Guide to Work Incentives (Publication
No. 64-030). You can find information
on substantial gainful activity online at
When we review nonmedical eligibility
during the age-18 redetermination, we
will ask for information about all of your
income including any earnings. SSI
offers work incentives and supports to
help you to work, which allow us to not
count some of your earnings and to
lessen the risk of you losing your SSI
or Medicaid because of work. However,
you must tell us about your work activity
no matter how little you earn. Your SSI
may continue while you work if you are
still disabled. As your earnings go up,
the amount of your SSI will go down and
eventually may stop. Even if your SSI
stops, you may be able to keep your
Medicaid coverage and keep working.

Social Security Work Incentives
and Supports

Social Security has a number of supports
available to youth and adults, that we
call work incentives. Work incentives
allow you to continue receiving your
SSI checks or Medicaid coverage while
you work. Social Security can give you
information about our work incentives
and supports, tell you when you qualify
for them, and help you to use them. See
“Contacting Social Security” on the last
page of this booklet. We describe some
of the work incentives and supports
below. For more information on these
and other Social Security employment
supports, see The Red Book – A
Guide To Work Incentives (Publication
No. 64-030). You can find it online at

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA)

Beginning at age 14, WIPA projects provide information and benefits counseling to help you understand and use work incentives. If you have any questions about Social Security’s programs or services for transition-age youth, please contact our Helpline. Helpline representatives will assist you with a referral to a WIPA. They are available through the call center at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. You can also find information on WIPA projects at

For additional information about SSI benefits for children beyond age 18, read our publication:  What You Need to Know About Supplemental Security Income When You Turn Age 18