Supplemental security income, known as SSI, may be available for individuals, usually minor children, who qualify. Social security income may also be available for individuals who have reached a certain age and have paid into the system with earnings throughout their lifetime. These benefits may pass on to their children or grandchildren if certain conditions are satisfied.

SSI for children is for individuals under the age of 18, or under the age of 22 who regularly attend school or have a qualifying disability. The individual is not permitted to be married or the head of a household.

SSI benefits may be available from birth, if the individual’s disability is present at birth. The disabilities that qualify are usually those that severely limit an individual’s ability to function because of a physical or mental condition. The condition must be expected to last at least 12 consecutive months or will result in the individual’s death.

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

Yes, there are income requirements to qualify for social security benefits. A process known as deeming is used when determining if an individual qualifies for benefits based on their income. The requirements for a child SSI application include:

  • The child resides at home with their parents;
  • Is under the age of 18; and
  • Is unmarried.

A parent’s or step-parent’s income may be used to determine whether or not the child qualifies for SSI. The income and resources of the family members in the household will be counted even if the child goes away to school. So long as they return at times and are subject to the control of the household members, the resources of the household members will be considered.

Disability benefits are used to assist disabled individuals who have limited assets. The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes SSI determinations based on an individual’s income as well as 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 noted above, in order for a child to qualify for SSI, they must meet the age requirements and have a physical or mental disability that limits their ability to perform day-to-day tasks. When applying for social security for a child, medical evidence must be presented to show that the child does meet the definition of disabled in a manner that qualifies them for SSI. The SSA will look for information including:

  • Medical documentation showing a disability submitted on behalf of the child;
  • Medical examinations of the child that are specifically requested by the SSA; or
  • Professional opinions of doctors or other health professionals who are familiar with the child as a patient.

The SSA may also request permission to receive information from individuals who interact with the child on a daily basis, including:

  • Doctors;
  • Teachers;
  • Therapists; or
  • Other professionals who have information regarding the child’s condition.

If the SSA is unable to make a determination regarding disability based on the information provided, they may request the applicant’s parent take the child for medical examinations or tests. The SSA will pay for any exams or tests requested.

What are Some Conditions that Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

Certain medical conditions meet the SSA qualification of disabled. Once the evidence shows that a child has a listed condition, they will qualify for SSI so long as they meet the other age and income requirements. Examples of the types of medical conditions that qualify include:

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

It is important to note that even if the child does not have one of the previously listed conditions, they may still qualify as disabled. The evidence submitted to the SSA will be used to determine whether the child’s disability limits their ability to function in a way that is equal to the severity of one of the previously listed conditions. If the evidence does show that, the child may be eligible for SSI.

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

If the child’s condition is so severe, a disability can be presumed, SSI benefits may be paid for up to 6 months, until such time as the SSA can make a formal determination of disability based on the evidence submitted. If, for some reason, the SSA determines the child does not qualify as disabled, the recipient will not be required to pay back the advanced benefits to the SSA.

Blindness is one condition that meets this presumption. Others may include Down syndrome and HIV or AIDS, depending on the circumstances of the condition and how it impacts the child’s life.

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

The amount a child will receive in SSI benefits will depend on the state in which they reside and how much income the child is determined to have available, usually through the parents. As of 2019, the federal base rate for benefits is $771 per month.

Even after a child disability application is approved, the SSA will want to continue evaluations of the child and certain intervals to determine whether or not they remain disabled according to the qualifications. How frequently evaluations will be conducted by the SSA depends on the child’s age and whether or not their condition is likely to improve. Once the child passes the age limit for SSI qualifications, they will be reevaluated for eligibility.

Is My Child Eligible for Supplemental Security Income?

As discussed above, in order to be eligible for SSI, a child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and medically eligible:

  • A child that is not blind cannot be working or earning more than $1,310 per month;
  • A child that is blind cannot be working or earning more than $2,190 per month;
  • The child must have a medical condition or combination of medical conditions that very seriously limit the child’s activities, known as marked and severe functional limitations;
  • The child’s condition or conditions must be disabling or are expected to be disabling for at least 12 months or the condition is expected to result in the death of the child.

It is important to note that the income amount maximums are subject to change every year.

Do I Need a Lawyer For Social Security Disability Benefits?

Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of a government lawyer for any social security benefits issues. Obtaining SSI benefits for a disabled child can be a lengthy, complicated, and challenging process. An experienced attorney will be familiar with the process and be able to offer advice a regular citizen may not know.

Caring for a disabled child and attempting to obtain benefits for them can be a very stressful process. Having an attorney on your side will ensure you have the best chance to obtain benefits. An attorney will be able to gather and present evidence in the best manner and ensure the SSA has all information needed to approve your claim. They can also assist if an appeal of the SSA’s decision is necessary or the amount granted is not enough to meet your child’s needs.