In addition to adults, children are also eligible for Social Security disability benefits, potentially helping them receive the critical care they require. Here, the Social Security disability benefits attorneys at Disability Associates detail how and why children might receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. 

What are the Qualifications to Receive SSI Benefits?

Children who have disabilities that greatly inhibit their ability to perform daily and necessary activities may qualify for monthly cash benefits through Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are several requirements a child must meet to qualify for these benefits. Children must be 18 years old or younger, unless they are currently enrolled full-time in either a junior high or high school, in which case they are eligible until they are 22. Once they reach the age of 18 (or 22), their case will be reevaluated as an adult. They must also be unmarried and live with their parent(s) or guardian(s).

What Financial Factors Impact SSI Benefits?

There are also a variety of financial factors that help the SSA determine if a child is eligible to receive benefits and how much they could be given. After considering various other expenses (explained further below) the SSA undergoes the “deeming” process of deciding a child’s eligibility based on available income.

One of those factors is the income sources available to the child. The SSA assumes that the child is benefiting from the parents’ income. Income is considered any money that comes from work performed by the parents, money that comes from investments or unemployment payments and assets. Welfare or public income maintenance (PIM) is not included in deemed income, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or VA pensions. Food stamps, foster care payments, disaster assistance, tax refunds on real property and homegrown produce for personal consumption are also not included in deemed income calculations.

What are Allocations and How Do They Impact Benefits?

Before deeming the amount available to a child, the SSA makes adjustments to parents’ income to account for the living expenses of the parents and any other children in the home. These adjustments are known as “allocations” and lower the amount of income deemed available to the disabled child, provided their parents, or other children in the home, are not receiving SSI payments.

In 2019, the allocation for children is $386, based on the Federal Benefit Amount (FBR). The allocation for biological or adoptive parents is known as the parental living allowance, and for one parent it is $771. The allocation is increased to $1,157 for two parents. To qualify for allocations, parents and children must not be on public assistance. Furthermore, a child living in a medical facility, or living with only a step-parent, will not have deemed income. Any allocations made are then deducted from total income to determine the child’s deemed income. As the deeming process is very complicated, and takes into account myriad factors, it is advisable to discuss your unique case with a qualified Social Security disability benefit attorney.

What are the Medical Requirements for Receiving SSI Benefits?

In addition to the deeming process, children must also meet the medical requirements which the SSA uses to determine whether a child is disabled. A child’s disability must be one that the SSA has previously specified as a ‘disabling condition,’ and a full list can be found here. Alternatively, if the child’s condition is not on the list, the SSA will review how the condition alters the child’s life to decide if the condition results in limitations that are “functionally equally” to the limitations caused by other conditions that are included in the list. This means that, to have the child’s condition qualify, the child’s impairment (i.e. what they cannot do, need help to do or are restricted in their manner of doing because of the condition) must be equally as severe as one of the conditions that is already approved. The disability must also last, or be reasonably expected to last, at least one year.

Speak to One of the Disability Attorneys at Disability Associates Today

Children, especially those with disabilities, are particularly vulnerable members of society, and deserve the benefits they require to receive adequate care. The dedicated attorneys at Disability Associates have years of experience helping families understand, complete, process and review their Social Security disability benefits applications and cases. For a free consultation, contact us today!