SSI Eligibility Requirements For Children
The parents of disabled children have many more burdens than the average adult. To help ease the financial strain childhood illnesses and disabilities can bring to a family, the federal government provides monthly cash payments to disabled children.
If your child has been diagnosed with a serious disability or illness, your child and your family may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
If you have questions about your child's eligibility, or if your benefits have been denied, the experienced Social Security attorneys at Dayes Law Firm PC, are prepared to help you receive the benefits you need.
Is My Child Eligible For Benefits?
Your child may be eligible for SSI benefits if he or she is blind or disabled, younger than 18, and not married or the head of the household. Children younger than 22 who are students regularly attending school may also be eligible. A child must also meet the income and resources limits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
There is no minimum age requirement to be eligible for SSI benefits. In some cases, a child can begin receiving benefits at birth. Once a child reaches the age of 18, the SSA will reevaluate his or her medical condition based on the definition of blindness or disability for adults.
What Disabilities Are Accepted For Benefits?
A child is disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition (or combination of conditions) which seriously limits the child's activities. The condition must either be expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, or must be expected to result in death.
Some conditions which generally qualify your child for SSI benefits include:
- Down Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Total deafness or blindness
- Muscular dystrophy
- Symptomatic HIV infection
- Extremely low birth weight
- Severe intellectual disorders
There are a wide range of conditions which may qualify for benefits. Your child will be evaluated by SSA, and they will consider testimony from your child's doctors, school teachers, and other caretakers.
If your child's disability is expected to improve over time, then he or she will be evaluated every three years to see if the conditions improve. A disability review may still be performed even if your child’s condition is not expected to improve. You will be expected to present certain evidence for verification of the disability.
What if My Child's Condition Does Not Qualify?
In the event your child’s condition does not meet the listed requirements, the SSA will evaluate how your child’s impairment affects certain areas of his or her life, also known as “domains of functioning.” Your child may still qualify for SSI benefits if you can show his or her condition causes marked limitation in one domain of functioning.
The six domains the SSA will assess include:
- Acquiring and using information
- Attending and completing tasks
- Interacting and relating to others
- Moving about and manipulating objects
- Caring for his or her personal needs
- Overall health and physical well-being
Other medical information will be considered and additional questions will be asked to help the SSA determine whether your child’s condition and ability to do certain activities are typical of other children his or her age that do not have an impairment.
SSD/SSI Income Benefits
Both your child's income and your family's income and resources will be evaluated when determining if your child is eligible for SSI benefits. This applies even if you child still lives at home or is away at school but returns home on occasion under your control.
If your child’s income or your family’s income and resources are more than the allowable limit, your child’s application for SSI benefits will be denied. The SSA will limit the monthly payment amount to $30 when a child is residing in a medical facility paid for by his or her health insurance.
Though many disabled children do not work at all, older children with disabilities are allowed to work so long as their income does not exceed $1,220 per month or more than $2,040 for older children with visual impairments. Both of these amounts typically change year over year.
Because SSI eligibility requirements for children usually mean that the child has limited income, many disabled children are also are eligible for their states Medicaid and children's health insurance programs. These programs may help you and your family pay for the necessary treatment your child needs.
What Happens After Applying for Benefits?
Once you apply for SSI benefits for your child, your disability claim will be sent to your local Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. DDS is responsible for verifying medical eligibility requirements. Doctors and other trained medical personnel will review all information submitted. Generally, the state agency will take three to five months to decide whether your child meets the criteria for disability.
For certain severe medical conditions, the SSA may begin making payments right away and for up to six months while they decide if your child has a qualifying disability.
Can I Appeal An Application Denial?
When a child is denied SSI benefits, it can be a frustrating experience for any parent. There are several reasons why the SSA may deny an application. Some of most common include:
- Your child does not meet the financial requirements for SSI
- SSA did not receive medical records prior to making a decision
- Your child’s medical records do not show the extent of disability or how the impairment limits your child’s ability to function
- Your child has had little to no medical treatment
If your child's claim has been denied, you have the right to appeal this decision. This appeal must be done in writing and completed within 60 days from the day you received the denial notice. Failure to do so will result in you losing the ability to appeal the decision.
The appeals process generally follows these four steps:
- Request a reconsideration of your child's claim from the Social Security Administration – Your child’s case will first be reviewed by an individual at your state disability determination agency who had no previous role in making the initial decision.
- Appeal a negative decision at a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) – If the first step is unsuccessful, you and your child will need to attend an informal hearing with the ALJ. This is an opportunity to provide new medical evidence or school records and answer questions before the judge about your child’s condition.
- Apply for review by the Appeals Council – The Appeals Council will only review your child’s case at this stage if it is found that the ALJ made a legal or technical error in their decision. If an error is determined, the council with hear the case themselves or send it to another ALJ for review.
- File a case in federal court – The last resort is filing a lawsuit in court on behalf of your child. Your child’s case at this point will be handled by the court system and not by the SSA.
Contact Dayes Law Firm Today for Legal Help
If your child has been denied SSI benefits, do not give up! Many claims are initially denied. At Dayes Law Firm PC, our experienced attorneys can guide you through the appeals process and help your child get the benefits he or she deserves.
SSI eligibility for children can be complicated, and the deadlines for appeals are unforgiving. If you believe your child's SSI claim has been unfairly denied, act quickly wait too long and you may lose your child's opportunity for benefits.
At Dayes Law Firm PC, our experienced Supplemental Security Income attorneys understand SSI eligibility requirements for children, and will help you navigate the complicated waters of disability claims.