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Social Security Q&A: Supplemental Security Income for Injured Teen

Question: My daughter is 19 years old. In her senior year of high school, she had an accident that paralyzed her. It doesn’t look like she will be able to work in the near future, and since she has never worked she hasn’t paid Social Security taxes. Can Social Security still help her?

Answer: Your daughter may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits. SSI is a needs-based program paid for by general revenue taxes and run by Social Security. It helps provide monetary support to people who are disabled and who have not paid enough in Social Security taxes to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify for SSI, a person must be disabled, and have limited resources and income. For more information, visit the Social Security Administration website and read You May Be Able to Get SSI, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Q: My dad receives Supplemental Security Income benefits. He soon will be coming to live with me. Does he have to report the move to Social Security?

A: Yes. He should report any change in his living arrangements within 10 days. The change may affect his benefit amount. Also, the Social Security Administration will need his correct address to send correspondence when needed, even if he receives his payments electronically. He can report the change by mail or in person at a Social Security office. Or, have him call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Changes must be reported promptly or a penalty may be charged and held from future benefits. For more information about the kinds of changes that need to be reported, read the publication What You Need To Know When You Get SSI at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Q: I receive Social Security disability benefits. I now have a second serious disability. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased?

A: No. Your Social Security disability benefit amount is based on the amount of your lifetime earnings before your disability began and not the number of disabling conditions or illnesses you may have. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

Q: I applied for disability benefits, but was denied. I’d like to appeal. Can I do it online?

A: Yes — in fact, the best way to file a Social Security appeal is online. The online appeal process is convenient and secure. Just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal to appeal the decision. For people who don’t have access to the Internet, you can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to file your appeal.

Q: It’s hard for me to get around because of my disability. Can I apply for disability benefits from home?

A: Yes. You can apply for benefits over the Internet at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to apply.

However you decide to apply, begin by looking at the Disability Starter Kit at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. It will help you prepare for your application or interview.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.