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Child Benefits and Social Security

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Child Benefits and Social Security

Disabled children under 18 years of age may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they have a physical or mental condition that results in marked and severe functional limitations, which means either the condition must last, or be expected to last at least twelve months, or it is expected to result in the child's death.

Are There any Income Requirements?

Yes. Disability benefits are for people with low incomes and limited assets.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider your income and assets relative to the cost of living. This process is called deeming.   

How Does the Social Security Administration Determine if My Child Is Disabled?

While your income and assets are examined, an SSA team determines if your child has a physical or mental condition that results in marked and severe functional limitations. Sources used to determine your child's condition include: 

  • Documents and evidence you submitted
  • Special examinations requested by the SSA
  • Opinions of doctors, health professionals, therapists, and social workers

What Are Some Conditions that Permit Benefits?

Social Security regulations have a list of more than 100 physical and mental problems that can disable a child. Some conditions include: 

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Mental retardation
  • Muscular Dystrophy

If your child's condition is not included in the list of physical and mental conditions, but their symptoms are medically equal in severity to a listed condition, your child will be considered disabled and eligible for benefits. 

This Process can take Months but I Need Benefits Now. What Can I Do?

If your child's condition is so severe that the SSA can presume they are disabled, then benefits are paid for up to six months while the formal disability investigation proceeds. If after the investigation your child is denied benefits, you do not need to repay the SSA. Some conditions that qualify for immediate benefits include total blindness, HIV infection, Down's syndrome, amputations, and mental retardation.

What Happens after My Child Is Approved for Benefits?

Once disbursement of the benefits begins, the SSA must periodically verify your child's disability. How often the verification occurs will depend on your child¿s age and whether the condition is expected to improve. When your child turns 18 the SSA will determine your child¿s eligibility based on adult benefit rules. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Caring for a child with a disability can be very difficult.  A government attorney specializing in Social Security benefits may assist you with gathering information for your claim and submitting the proper documentation.  If you need to appeal a decision denying disability benefits, or were granted inadequate benefits, a lawyer may advise you of your rights and remedies.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 03-16-2018 12:45 AM PDT

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