When Children Need Social Security

Most people are aware that disabled adults can often qualify for Social Security benefits, and many may be aware that the children of disabled adults can typically receive benefits as well. What is not as commonly realized, however, is that disabled children may be able to receive benefits from Social Security in some cases.

Social Security Income (SSI) for Children

A child who is under the age of 18 may be eligible to receive payments from SSI each month if he or she suffers from a mental or physical condition, or a combination of conditions that meet the definition for disability under Social Securitiy’s guidelines and has limited income and resources.

Additionally, the income and resources of each family member living in the home is considered when determining eligibility as well. When the child’s income and resources, or the income and resources of other household members equal more than what is allowed, the null will be denied. These rules not only apply if the child lives at home, but also when the child is away at school but returns home from time to time.

Requirements for Eligibility

In order to be considered eligible to receive SSI, the child in question must meet all of the following requirements.

  • The child must not have earned income that exceeds the amount allowed under the program rules. ($1090 in 2015) This amount typically changes annually.
  • The child must suffer from a mental or physical condition or a combination of conditions that result in “marked and severe functional limitations”. In other words, a child’s activities must be significantly limited.
  • The mental or physical condition(s) must have been disabling for a minimum of 12 months, be expected to last an additional 12 months, or be expected to result in loss of life.

When an application is submitted, it is sent to the local Disability Determination Services office for review. The office will usually collect medical and school records and any other information that may be helpful in making a determination. In some situations, the child may be asked to be examined by a medical examiner or take tests. Processing of an initial disability application typically takes from 3 to 6 months, and approved cases are usually reviewed periodically. When the child turns 18, the case will usually be reviewed and different eligibility rules designed for disabled adults may apply.