Child Welfare Policy Manual

December 22, 2014

8.2B.12  TITLE IV-E, Adoption Assistance Program, Eligibility, SSI

1. Question: Is there a prohibition under title IV-E against claiming Federal financial participation (FFP) for adoption assistance for a child who receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Answer: There is no prohibition under title IV-E against claiming FFP for adoption assistance for a child who receives benefits from SSI. Section 473 of title IV-E created an adoption assistance program which permits Federal matching funds for the costs of adoption assistance for the purpose of encouraging the placement of eligible children in adoptive homes. Under title IV-E adoption assistance (section 473), the scope of eligibility specifically includes children with special needs who are eligible to receive SSI (473 (a)(2)(A)(i)(II)) as well as those eligible for AFDC (473 (a)(2)(A)(i)(I)) and title IV-E foster care (473 (a)(2)(A)(i)(III)).

Title XVI (SSI) is a needs based program and, as such, requires a test of income and resources of the adoptive parents in determining the amount of the SSI benefit to which a child with a disability(ies) may be entitled. If (or when) the parental resources and income exceed a maximum level determined by the SSI program, the child is no longer eligible for SSI payments.

If the adoptive parents decide to decline adoption assistance and choose to receive only SSI for the child, and if they have not executed an adoption assistance agreement before the adoption is finalized, they may not later receive title IV-E adoption assistance payments, as the child would no longer meet all of the eligibility requirements as a child with special needs (section 473 (c)(2)). It may be prudent for the decision maker (parent, guardian, custodian, caretaker relative) to arrange for an adoption assistance agreement which does not provide for payment, but which does provide for title XVI and title XIX coverage, and which may at some future date, upon review, be renegotiated to provide for payment of adoption assistance funds.

The adoptive parents of a child eligible for title IV-E adoption assistance and SSI benefits may make application for both programs and the child, if eligible, may benefit from both programs simultaneously.

In cases where the child is eligible for both SSI and title IV-E and there is concurrent receipt of payments from both programs, "the child's SSI payment will be reduced dollar for dollar without application of any exclusion", thus decreasing the SSI benefit by the amount of the title IV-E payment (SSI Program Operations Manual). To reiterate, concurrent receipt is subject to the SSI rule that the SSI payment will be reduced by the amount of the foster care payment.

2. Question: Section 473(a)(2)(A)(bb)(II) of the Social Security Act (the Act) indicates that a child who meets all of the requirements of title XVI of the Act with respect to eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be eligible for title IV-E adoption assistance. When must a child be eligible for SSI for the purposes of meeting the title IV-E adoption assistance eligibility criteria?

Answer: As of October 1, 2005, the child's eligibility for SSI benefits must be established prior to finalization of the adoption.

3. Question: In determining whether an applicable child who is a special needs child is eligible for title IV-E adoption assistance through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pathway, may a title IV-E agency make the determination that the child meets the medical or disability requirements for SSI benefits? (See section 473(a)(2)(A)(ii)(I)(bb) of the Social Security Act).

Answer: Yes. For the purposes of determining whether an applicable child who is a special needs child is eligible for title IV-E adoption assistance through the SSI pathway, the title IV-E agency may make the determination that the child meets the medical or disability requirements for SSI benefits. The title IV-E agency is not making an SSI eligibility determination on behalf of the child, as that responsibility lies with the Social Security Administration and that includes a financial eligibility component. Rather, the title IV-E agency is responsible for title IV-E adoption assistance eligibility determinations, and therefore the agency is permitted to make the determination that the child meets the medical or disability requirements for SSI benefits for title IV-E eligibility purposes.

  • Source/Date: 2/24/2011
  • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - Sections 473(a)(1)(B)(ii)), 473(a)(2)(A)(ii)(I)(bb) and 473(c)(2)(B)(ii)