Ask Larry

Why Does My Son Have To See A Speech Therapist If He Was Previously Approved For SSI Disability Benefits?

I am 49, my husband died at the age of 41 in 2017 after falling from scaffolding at work. We automatically began receiving worker's compensation death benefits due to his workplace death (mine are lifetime, our son's are until he is out of school unless he is deemed disabled). Our 18 yr old son has also been receiving SS survivor's benefits based on my husband's earning record since his death. I applied for, and was turned down for widow's benefits based on caring for our disabled son. Our son was born prematurely, weighed under 1000 grams at birth, had vocal cord damage that destroyed his ability to breathe on his own & received a tracheotomy at the age of 4 mo old, which he still has. He was on SSI until our income prevented him qualifying in 2012.

We are in the process of having his disability re-determination completed in order for him to continue receiving the survivor's benefits as an "disabled adult child". The condition/disability that qualified him as "disabled" for the purpose of SSI has not changed, only his age. I have previous determination letters from them (last one from 2012), stating that he was "disabled" and the date his disability began as his date of birth. We went to an appt. that SS set up with a speech therapist last Monday.

My questions are: 1. If his condition is the same, why are they having him see a speech therapist? 2. As his mother, will I qualify for widower benefits if they designate him as a D.A.C., will I be able to collect them retroactively due to having applied right after he died & will my benefits also be 75% of my husband's PIA? 3. Will our worker's compensation death benefits be counted against the SS amount(s)?


I'm sorry for your loss.

The prior determination that your son was disabled for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits could not be adopted for purposes of entitling him to Social Security disabled adult child's (DAC) benefits because the SSI benefits were terminated and because the medical requirements are different for SSI childhood disability benefits than they are for Social Security DAC benefits. So, a new medical determination would be required in order for your son to qualify for DAC benefits, and the disability examiner responsible for handling his claim apparently feels that an exam by a speech therapist is necessary in order to make a determination on your son's claim.

If your son ends up being approved for DAC benefits then it's possible that you might qualify for child in care survivor benefits, but only if your son is determined to have a mental disability, or if you are required to perform 'personal services' for him because of his physical problems. For more information on what is meant by 'personal services', refer to the following section of the Social Security Handbook:

Whether or not you could be entitled to back pay depends on the medical determination made by Social Security on your son's claim, and whether or not you've been performing personal services for him if he isn't found to have a mental impairment. Even without meeting the child in care requirements, though, you could potentially qualify for widow's benefits as early as age 60, or as early as age 50 if you become disabled within 7 years of your husband's death.

The workers' compensation benefits that you and your son receive would not affect either your or your son's eligibility for Social Security benefits nor your benefit rates.

Best, Jerry

Sep 21 2019 - 4:36pm
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