Can I file a disability claim for my adult child who lacks mental capacity?

My daughter turns 18 soon and has down syndrome. She can't file for her own disability benefits because doesn't have the mental capacity. How do I file for her?

You can file for your daughter by making an appointment at your local Social Security office. I would suggest that you have a letter from your daughter's treating physician that states she is not capable of handing her own affairs due to the Down Syndrome. Social Security has to determine if a person is capable or not, so a letter substantiating that she is unable to do her own claim or handle her affairs would help Social Security to make that determination.

The first step is to file for disability. I doubt she will have any problems being approved for disability. I hope things go smoothly.

Note: Although there is an online process, it's usually a better idea to contact your local office and arrange for a face-to-face interview, or at least one conducted over the phone so you can interact with an SSA claims rep. The online process does not give you the opportunity to ask questions and this may be somewhat disadvantageous even though SSA pushes the online process to save money on manpower.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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