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Disability Benefits for Children

Securing Social Security disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income for a child with disabilities is a tricky subject. Equally as complicated is obtaining disability benefits for an adult who became disabled as a child. Both scenarios would be classified under a “child’s benefit”.   

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are awarded to disabled individuals that have worked and accumulated enough work credits to qualify for the program. Because the majority of children under the age of 18 with disabilities have not worked and contributed to the Social Security program by paying taxes, their parents’, caregivers’, or representatives’ earnings record will be used to determine the child’s eligibility. 

Supplemental Security Income 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that helps people with low income and limited resources that are: 65 or older, or blind, or disabled. Because SSI is a welfare program, the disabled child’s income and resources and that of their parents, caregivers, or representatives will be taken into consideration by the Social Security when deciding the child’s eligibility. These guidelines are applied to children that live at home or are away for school, but return home periodically and are still under their parents’, caregivers’, or representatives’ control. 

If the child’s income and resources, or the income of the family members’ living in the child’s household exceed the Social Security’s guidelines, the child will be denied right away. 

SSI Eligibility Guidelines

Your child must meet satisfy the following requirements to be considered disabled and eligible for Supplemental Security Income:

  • Your child cannot be employed and earning more than $940 a month in 2008 (earning guidelines change regularly as the cost of living changes).
  • Your child must be diagnosed with a physical or mental impairment, or a combination of impairments, that result in “marked and severe functional limitations” (this means that your child’s condition(s) must significantly limit their ability to perform the activities of daily living).
  • Your child’s condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 12 months; or must be expected to result in death.