Applying for SSI Benefits on Behalf of a Child
What is Supplemental Security Income?
For children under the age of 18, the SSA offers Supplemental Security Income or SSI. The maximum SSI payment is $783 per month. SSI is a needs-based program. This means that if your family has a high income, you will unfortunately not qualify, regardless of your child’s disability.
The SSA will deem a family’s income and assets when evaluating an applicant. Not all of your income will be included in the asset deeming process. The larger your family, the higher your income can be. Again, having a spouse or more children will raise this asset limit. The SSA has a chart with the income limits for families available online.
How Does My Child Qualify for Benefits Medically?
Disability applicants are evaluated via the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is a medical guide with hundreds of disabilities that can potentially qualify for benefits, plus the required test results or symptoms for an applicant to be approved. There is a version of the Blue Book specifically for children. Overall, children have an easier time qualifying medically for disability benefits. Some listed disabilities include:
· Down syndrome
· Anxiety disorders
· Intellectual disability
· Psychotic disorders
· Mood disorders
Every child will qualify for benefits differently, depending on the disability he or she has been diagnosed with. For example, the vast majority of children with Down syndrome will automatically qualify after just showing that a karyotype analysis has diagnosed their genetic variance. Children with autism, however, will need to have strong medical evidence that shows that they show all three of the following:
· Lack of interest in social interaction
· Lack of verbal and nonverbal communication
· Lack of interests or participation in activities.
If your child has a disability that is not listed in the Blue Book or does not meet his or her disability’s listing, you can still medically qualify for benefits. This will be done by evaluating how your child functions. If your child has difficulty in the following three areas he or she could still qualify:
· A “marked impairment” in age-appropriate cognitive abilities, which can often be proved by evaluations or the testimony from individuals who have knowledge of your child
· A “marked impairment” in age-appropriate social functioning, which includes playing with other children or following the direction of an adult.
· A “marked impairment” in age-appropriate personal functioning, which can include getting dressed, brushing teeth, washing up, or other personal tasks or chores.
The entire Blue Book can be found online, so you can review the intellectual disability listing with your child’s doctor to get a better idea as to whether he or she will qualify for SSI benefits.