In recent years, the Social Security Administration has been aggressively reviewing and too often terminating Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for older youth just as they are making the transition to adulthood. In 2012, 71% of teenagers receiving SSI in Pennsylvania lost their benefits upon turning 18. Frequently, these teens have a combination of learning disabilities and psychological issues that make it difficult to find work. However, upon completing their secondary education they lose the vocational, educational, and other services they need and are legally entitled to receive.
Through her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Claire Grandison worked with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia to examine how barriers for older youth with disabilities could be overcome and to ensure they would have access to critical income, social services, vocational training, and workforce placement supports. She researched legislation and case law, conducted interviews with adolescents and advocates, represented clients in disability hearings, conducted trainings for vocational rehabilitation counselors and other service providers, and met with state and federal agency staff to advocate for policy reforms.