We post here often about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a federal disability insurance program into which workers pay and earn coverage should they become disabled and unable to work. But for some who have not earned coverage or are otherwise ineligible, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may provide a safety net.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the SSI program, but it is not funded through payroll deductions. Rather, it is a federal program that supports people with low income and assets and are also blind, disabled or elderly. What many do not know, however, is that some disabled children are eligible for SSI.
Caring for a child with significant medical problems can be very expensive. Parents or guardians of disabled children should investigate whether SSI can help provide financial supports for these children, who may need expensive equipment or therapies not always covered by other insurance or public benefit programs.
Eligibility for SSI as a disabled child
Here are some of the eligibility requirements for SSI for children:
- Disabled or blind
- Under 18 or under 22 and in school – eligibility may begin at birth
- Unmarried and not the head of a household
- Limited income and assets
An adult applying for SSI (or SSDI) must meet a definition of disability that focuses on the extent to which medical impairments prevent the ability to perform work activities. For a child applying for SSI, to be disabled, they must have a physical or mental medical impairment or a combination of impairments expected to last at least a year or result in death that causes “marked and severe functional limitations.” (The requirements are different and unique for blind children.)
In addition, the analysis of whether the child’s income and assets are low enough is complex, sometimes depending on the nature of assets, the size of the family and the parents’ resources.
An experienced SSI attorney can help with an application or appeal for SSI for children, especially with proving disability and navigating the financial eligibility requirements.