Social Security has rules for handling disability determinations for young adults.
Generally speaking, the same rules apply in determining disability for young adults as in determining disability for other adults. There must be medical evidence of severe limiting impairments that prevent full-time, competitive employment.
Oftentimes in the case of young adults, however, evidence from school programs and IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) can be important in determining the person’s level of functioning.
Such evidence can provide perspective on the person’s ability to understand, remember & carry out instructions; engage in basic communication; maintain attention, persistence and pace; respond appropriately to supervisors, co-workers and the general public, and perform other basic work activities.
Evidence of how the individual has functioned In on-the-job training programs (OJT) can be important to consider as well.
When determining if a young adult is capable of competitive employment, the effect of special accommodations is typically not considered, unless the person has had a job in which such accommodations were provided.
In determining disability insured status for young adults aged 21-24, the same test that is used for persons under age 21 applies. This is whether or not the person had six quarters of coverage during the twelve quarters ending in the quarter in which the disability began.
Because different rules apply for determining disability in children than adults, a disabled child who reaches the age of 18 will automatically undergo a disability redetermination to see if they are disabled under the adult rules.
Disability rules for children focus on whether the child can function independently, effectively and in an age-appropriate manner in several broad domains of functioning. Adult disability rules focus on whether the person has functional limitations that are sever enough to preclude full-time employment.
Younger individuals are found “not disabled” even if they are functionally illiterate unless they have a medically determined severe impairment that causes such functional limitations as would prevent full-time, competitive employment.
There are certain circumstances in which young adults who are found to be no longer disabled due to medical improvement can continue to receive benefits. One such circumstance is if they are participating in a vocational rehabilitation program that increases their likelihood of remaining off of the disability rolls if the program successfully completed.
See Social Security Ruling (SSR) 11-2p.
It often helps to consult an experienced attorney in navigating the sometimes difficult rules that apply in determining disability in young adults.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.