If you have a child with a disability that affects their normal ability to function, you might be wondering if you can get SSDI for children. While you cannot receive SSDI, because a child has not paid into the program by working, they still may qualify for monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
In order to qualify for benefits, your child must meet certain requirements.
To be accepted for SSI, a person must fall below a specific income level, and this is true of children as well. When determining benefits for a child, Social Security looks at the income of the parent the child lives with. If they live with a step-parent too, that person’s income will also be considered. If the child lives outside the home, only the resources and income of the parent in charge and who the child visits on holidays and weekends will be taken into account.
Your child must be under 18 years of age in order to be approved for SSI benefits. The only exception to this rule is if the child is still enrolled full time in high school or junior high. In that instance, childhood benefits may continue until 22 years of age. Children older than 18 who attend college are not eligible.
After reaching the age of 18 (or 22 in special circumstances), a child’s disability will be reevaluated under adult terms. Lawyers for disabled children may be able to help with this transition.
Your child can meet medical disability requirements in one of two ways. First, they may meet the qualifications of a specific disability listing. Barring that, they may still qualify if they have a condition that limits their functionality as much as a disability on the list.
Social Security puts out a “blue book” with a list of impairments that qualify children for disability benefits. In order to meet a listing from this book, you must provide evidence from your child’s doctors that the child meets every section listed.
Social Security’s “blue book” contains 14 listings of impairments that qualify a child for disability. If your child’s impairment doesn’t exactly meet the elements in the book, they may still be considered for SSI if their condition is similar and as severe as a listed impairment.
Adults who apply for SSI must prove their disability renders them unable to work. However, this is not generally applicable to children. Instead, Social Security examines your child’s functional limitations. In order to equal the listings, your child must have one “extreme impairment” or two “marked” impairments in the listed functional categories. “Extreme” limitations severely interfere with your child’s ability to function, while “marked” limitations only greatly interfere. These limitations may be caused by a combination of lesser impairments or one severe impairment.
To receive disability benefits, your child must have been disabled for at least 12 months, or be expected to be disabled that long. Exceptions do apply, such as children with low birth weights who qualify for presumptive disability under six months of age.