The status of an individual as a full-time student can affect his eligibility for social security benefits. A child who is disabled or blind may receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of “child” includes an individual who is under age twenty-two and is a full-time student. The key difference between the recovery of benefits for a child versus an adult is that there is a different “disability” criterion. Adult claimants must prove that a medically determinable impairment prohibits them from engaging in substantial gainful activity while children must only show a medically determinable impairment that results in severe functional limitations.
For the receipt of SSI benefits, the claimant must have limited income and resources. An unmarried student who is under age twenty-two and who regularly attends school is allowed an earned income exclusion. This exclusion takes a certain amount of earnings that the student makes and excludes them from the income that the SSA uses to determine the amount of benefits that the student will receive.
With respect to disability benefits, it is normally the case that a child may receive dependent benefits until the age of eighteen. However, if the child is a full-time student in an elementary or high school, such benefits can continue until the child graduates or reaches age nineteen.
To verify a student's status as such, the SSA requests that school officials certify the full-time attendance of the student. A student attending school “full-time” means that he attends an elementary or secondary level school, is enrolled in a non-correspondence course that lasts for at least thirteen weeks, is scheduled to attend class at least twenty hours per week, and carries a full load for day students as determined by the school's standard practice. School officials are charged with the responsibility of notifying the SSA should the student's attendance drop below full-time for any reason other than graduation or summer break.
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