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August 22, 2016 Practice Points

Social Security Administration Extends Application Period for Youth in Foster Care

By Jessalyn Schwartz

As of August 1, 2016, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has extended their timeline for allowing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications from youth with disabilities who are engaged in the foster care system. In 2010, the SSA began taking applications from youth up to 90 days prior to their transition out of foster care. The new pilot program allows youth with disabilities to apply up to 180 days before their transition date, which is an exception to the general rule of accepting applications in the month before the month the youth would normally be eligible for SSI payments. Typically, youth in foster care cannot obtain SSI while foster care payments are in play.

Foster care youth may file within this new 180 day timeframe if they are: i) living in statutory foster care situation; ii) allege blindness or disability; iii) appears likely to meet all non-medical eligibility requirements when foster care payments terminate; iv) expects foster care payments to stop within 180 days of the application; and v) file within 180 days of youth ceasing to be eligible for foster care.

The SSA has laid out specific procedures for these applications on their website. If a child is not eligible for SSI prior to the age of 18, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is instructed to place the application in a medical hold.  The pilot program is established through July 31, 2017, and may be further extended.

Jessalyn Schwartz is an associate in the Law Office of Christine M. Bonardi in Roslindale, Massachusetts.

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