Under Social Security, children under the age of 18 are eligible to collect Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits within several different circumstances. Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates outline the Social Security benefit options available for disabled children and their families.

Supplemental Security Income

One of the most common ways that children—and their families—can receive disability benefits under Social Security is through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Any person who meets the following threshold is eligible to apply:

  • You are neither married nor head of household and under the age of 18
  • You are neither married nor head of household and under the age of 22 and a full-time student

Similar to adults, children must either be disabled or blind to be considered eligible for SSI and must also have limited income and resources per the SSA’s definitions. Visit the SSA’s web page regarding SSI requirements for more detailed definitions of these criteria.

Determining financial eligibility for a child under SSI involves several different factors. According to the SSA, part of the parents’ income is attributed to the child when determining whether they are financially eligible for SSI. This process is known as “deeming” and includes:

  • parents’ earned and unearned income,
  • step-parents’ or legal guardians’ earned and unearned income,
  • other resources and assets from parents or legal guardians, and
  • any resources from both legal and natural parents in cases of adoption.

“Earned” income is income that is generated through work, while “unearned” income comes from other sources such as investments or unemployment payments. Certain resources are not counted by the SSA in the deeming process including food stamps, foster care payments, disaster assistance and more.

Social Security Dependents Benefits

Disabled or not, children can qualify for Social Security benefits if their parent, step-parent or legal guardian is currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or was entitled to such benefits before they passed away. This form of benefit collection is referred to as auxiliary, or dependents, benefits and entitles a single child up to 50% of the parent’s monthly benefit.

When an adult applies for disability benefits, the SSA will ask for the Social Security numbers and birth certificates of any family members who meet the eligibility criteria for family benefits. This includes the applicant’s spouse, former spouse, children and adult children. Grandchildren may also qualify in some circumstances.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Disabled children in low-income families may also be eligible for Medicaid coverage. In many states, Medicaid even comes automatically with SSI eligibility. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health coverage to children through Medicaid and additional programs, but unlike Medicaid itself, CHIP is designed to give low-cost health coverage to children in families who generate too much income to qualify for Medicaid. Just like Medicaid, CHIP is handled on a state-by-state basis and—in Maryland—the program is referred to as the Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHIP).

The Attorneys at Disability Associates are Here to Advocate for You

If you have a child that is living with a disability, the last thing you should have to worry about is being able to provide them with basic human necessities. Fortunately, you and your family have the right to claim benefits from government programs such as Social Security. At Disability Associates, Social Security is our sole area of concentration, meaning your family has access to a team with years of experience in helping people just like you. For more information about how we can help, contact us today.