What's The Law?
Social Security benefits aid adoptees
I currently receive retirement Social Security benefits. If I adopt my grandchildren, will they be able to get my Social Security benefits?
Answer: According to Sheri Rand, Legal Aid's adoptions manager: Yes. Once the adoption is granted, and you receive a new certified copy of the child's birth certificate listing you as their parent, you can take that official document to the Social Security office to add the minor child as your dependent, making him or her eligible to receive benefits.
Q: What is the definition of disability for the purposes of SSI and SSDI?
A: From Stacia Silva, Legal Aid managing attorney: There are two definitions for disability -- one for adults, one for children. Adults must be unable to perform any substantial activity for pay because of a physical or mental condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Things Social Security normally considers, in addition to your medical condition, include age, education and work skills. Because of their lowered employability, older, less educated and lower-skilled applicants are more likely to be found disabled than their younger, educated and skilled counterparts. Social Security will also consider a combination of medical impairments and can determine that although one impairment does not by itself disable someone, the combination of several impairments causes them to be disabled. Various sources of information are evaluated for a disability claim: medical records, statements from the applicant, statements from third parties with knowledge of the applicant's limitations, and -- sometimes -- physical or psychological evaluations paid for by Social Security. Children under 18 must have physical and/or mental conditions that seriously limit their activities and are expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Often, children are evaluated using a series of domains, depending on their age. Each domain evaluates a different area of function, such as self-care and learning. If they are evaluated to be "marked" in one or more domains, they could be determined to be disabled. These domains look at both physical and mental functions.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.