Supplemental security income, or SSI, may be available for people (mostly minor children) who qualify. Social security is also given to those who have reached a certain age and paid into the system with earnings over their lifetime, and which may pass on to children or grandchildren if certain conditions are met. SSI for children, however, is for persons under the age of 18, or under the age of 22 if they regularly attend school, who have a qualifying disability.

The person may not be married or the head of a household. The benefits may begin at birth, if the disability is present from birth. The types of conditions that qualify are usually those that severely limit the person’s ability to function, either because of a physical or mental condition. The condition must be one that is expected to last for at least twelve continuous months, or will result in the person’s death.

Are There Any Income Requirements to Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

Yes, a process called “deeming” is used to determine whether persons qualify for SSI based on income. This only applies when the child still lives at home with their parents, is under 18, and is not married.  A parent’s or step-parent’s income may be used to determine whether the child qualifies for SSI.

Disability benefits are intended to assist disabled persons with limited assets.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes SSI determinations based on a person’s income and other resources, which may or may not be considered in the overall amount.

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

As mentioned above, in order to qualify for SSI, the child must meet the requirement of age and of having a physical or mental condition that limits their ability to function in terms of day-to-day activities. Medical evidence is necessary to show that a child meets the definition of disabled such that they qualify for SSI. The type of information that the SSA will look for includes:

  • Medical documentation submitted on behalf of the child;
  • Examinations of the child specifically requested by the SSA; and/or
  • Professional opinions of doctors and other health professionals who know the child as a patient.

What are Some Conditions that Qualifies for Social Security Benefits?

Some medical conditions are listed with the SSA as meeting the qualification of disabled. Therefore, once the evidence has shown that the child has such a condition, they would qualify for SSI, if they meet the other conditions, such as age and income. Some examples of these types of medical conditions include:

  • Neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy;
  • Cancer;
  • Immune system conditions such as HIV/AIDS;
  • Muscular Dystrophy;
  • Down syndrome;
  • Congenital heart disease; and
  • Spina bifida.

However, if the child does not meet one of the listed conditions, they may still qualify as disabled. The evidence will be used to determine whether their disability limits their ability to function in a way that equals the severity of one of the listed conditions. If so, then they may still be eligible for SSI.

But I Need Social Security Benefits Now, What Can I Do?

If a child’s condition is severe enough to allow for a presumption of disability, then benefits may be paid for up to six months, until the SSA can make a formal determination based on the evidence. If for some reason the SSA finds that the child does not qualify as disabled, then it will not be necessary to repay the advanced benefits to the SSA. Blindness is one conditions which meets the presumption, while some others might include Down syndrome and HIV/AIDS depending on the circumstances and how it impacts the child’s life.

What Happens After My Child is Approved for Social Security Benefits?

The amount you receive in benefits will depend on the state where you live, and how much income your child is determined to have available (through parents, probably). There is currently a federal base rate of $771 a month, which will be the rate for 2019.

The SSA will want to continue to evaluate the child at intervals to determine whether they remain disabled according to their qualifications. How frequently the SSA wants to conduct these evaluations will depend upon the child’s age, and whether their condition is one that is likely to improve. Once the child exceeds the age limit for SSI, they will have to be reevaluated for eligibility.

Do I Need a Lawyer For Social Security Disability Benefits?

Getting SSI for a child with a disability can be a lengthy and challenging process. A government attorney who has experience in helping people get Social Security and other government benefits should be able to help. As stressful as it is to care for a disabled child, an attorney who understands SSI can improve the quality of life for you and your child in the long run.

They can help with gathering all the necessary evidence, and make sure the SSA has everything they need to make a proper evaluation. They can also help you appeal if you receive a decision denying your child SSI, or if the amount you are granted is not enough to meet your child’s financial needs.