How to Get Disability Benefits for Children

Disability benefits for children

Having a disabled child can affect all aspects of your family’s life. Depending on your child’s disability, he or she may need therapy, special care, and other costly medical necessities to thrive. Those expenses can be a financial burden for parents with full-time caretaking duties at home instead of working. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide monthly disability benefits for children aged 18 and younger. In order to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), however, children must meet the SSA’s own disability definition. In addition, the child’s household income must fall within the eligibility limits to receive benefits.



SSI Disability Benefits for Children: Who Qualifies?

Similar to how SSI works for adults, you must meet specific disability requirements for children, too. Here are the three main factors the SSA must consider in determining your child’s eligibility status:

1. Your child’s medical condition or illness must meet the SSA’s definition of a disability.

The SSA will ask you for detailed information about your child’s medical condition. Specifically, they want to know how it affects your child’s ability to perform daily activities. They also ask you to give doctors, therapists, and teachers permission to send them more information about your child’s condition. The requirements to qualify for disability benefits for children are the same as those for disabled adults.

2. Your child’s household income and available financial resources must fall below the maximum monthly limit.

Of course, most children don’t have steady income or resources of their own. However, the SSA considers the family’s household income and financial resources during the claim review process. Whether your child lives at home or goes to a boarding school and returns during holidays, family income is considered. If your total income and resources are higher than the maximum monthly amount allowed, the SSA typically won’t award benefits. If your monthly earnings are more than $1,170 in 2017, the SSA will deny your disability benefits for children claim.

3. The expected duration of your child’s disability must fall under SSI qualification guidelines.

Your child’s medical condition must be disabling (or expected to be) for at least one year, or result in death. If either applies, your son or daughter may qualify to receive disability benefits for children.

How to Get Immediate Disability Benefits for Children

In most cases, the SSA takes 3-5 months to review your application and disperse disability benefits for children who qualify. But under certain circumstances, children with disabilities may qualify for immediate assistance from the SSA.

The SSA fast-tracks any disability claims submitted by applicants whose medical condition falls on their Compassionate Allowances List (CAL). Some conditions included on the CAL list are:

  • Total blindness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Total deafness
  • HIV infection (when combined with other impairments)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Severe intellectual disability (for children aged 4 and older)
  • Birth weight below 2 pounds, 10 ounces

If your child has one or more medical conditions on the CAL list, you’ll start getting SSI benefits right away. But what if your state’s disability agency ultimately that your child’s condition isn’t severe enough to qualify for SSI? Under the CAL initiative, you won’t have to return any SSI payments your child received during the claims evaluation period. Here is a complete list of the SSA’s approved CAL conditions.

How to Get SSI Benefits Fast for Disabled Children

Waiting on much-needed disability benefits for children can be frustrating as well as expensive. If you’re wondering how to get SSI disability fast, here are a few ways to make the claims process easier:

  1. Have your child’s Social Security number and birth certificate handy. And if you’re applying for your child based on your personal earnings, have your own Social Security number readily available.
  2. Tell the SSA as much as you can about your child’s medical condition.
  3. Provide dates for your child’s doctor visits or hospital stays (including the patient account numbers, if applicable).
  4. Provide copies of any medical reports about treating your child’s medical condition that you currently have in your possession.
  5. Provide records that clearly show your monthly income and available financial resources (as well as your child’s, when applicable).
  6. Describe how your child’s medical condition affects his or her ability to perform daily functions and activities.
  7. Provide the names of any teachers, daycare providers, family members, etc. who can verify your child’s daily functional abilities.
  8. Bring any relevant school records to your interview.

SSA Support Programs for Disabled Youth

If your child is getting SSI payments but also wants to work, the SSA offers several programs for disabled youth. When determining monthly payments for these support programs, however, they don’t consider most of the child’s income. Here are just a few programs for disabled youth implemented by the SSA to help your child thrive economically:

  • Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) – This program helps children aged 15 or older save money and resources to pay for their education and other necessities. The program’s goal is to help disabled youth reduce or eliminate their SSI benefits by preparing for and securing employment. To learn more about PASS, click here.
  • Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) – Due to his or her disabling medical condition, your child may need certain things in order to become employed. These may include a wheelchair, personal assistant, or other items. The SSA doesn’t count some or all of the money that’s paid for such items in determining your child’s earnings. Children aged 15 and older may also get assistance with physical rehabilitation and training for work. Learn more about the IRWE program and which additional item expenses may be deductible.
  • Medicaid – Even if your child’s earnings are high enough to stop receiving monthly SSI payments, the SSA allows continuing Medicaid coverage. (That is, as long as your child’s earnings fall below a certain amount each month.)

What Happens When Your Disabled Child Turns 18?

Once your child turns 18, your personal income is no longer a factor in determining eligibility for SSI benefits. At this point, your child must meet the same SSI beneficiary requirements as any disabled adult. Disability benefits for children must be reassessed by the SSA upon turning 18.

Get Legal Assistance Filing Your Claim for Disability Benefits for Children

Before filing your disability benefits for children claim, consider getting a free legal consultation with a Social Security disability attorney or advocate in your area. Having a legal representative on your side can be crucial when collecting proper medical documentation to support your child’s disability claim.

Ready to get started? Click the button below to get your free evaluation to see if you may qualify for legal assistance today.

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