Social Security Articles
Social Security Articles

Children and SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) makes monthly payments to people with low income and limited resources who are 65 or older, or blind or disabled. Your child younger than age 18 can qualify if he or she meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. The amount of the SSI payment is different from one state to another because some states add to the SSI payment.

When Social Security Administration (SSA) decides if your child can get SSI, they consider your child’s income and resources. They also consider the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household. These rules apply if your child lives at home. They also apply if he or she is away at school but returns home from time to time and is subject to your control. If your child’s income and resources, or the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household, are more than the amount allowed, they will deny the child’s application for SSI payments.

SSA limits the monthly SSI payment to $30 when a child is in a medical facility where health insurance pays for his or her care. Your child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for SSI:

  1. The child must not be working and earning more than $1,070 a month in 2014. (This earnings amount usually changes every year.) If he or she is working and earning that much money, we will find that your child is not disabled.
  2. The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit your child’s activities.
  3. The child’s condition(s) must have been disabling, or be expected to be disabling, for at least 12 months; or
  4. must be expected to result in death. If your child’s condition(s) results in “marked and severe functional limitations” for at least 12 continuous months, we will find that your child is disabled. But if it does not result in those limitations, or does not result in those limitations for at least 12 months, we will find that your child is not disabled.

When you apply for benefits for your child, SSA will ask you for detailed information about the child’s medical condition and how it affects his or her ability to function on a daily basis. They also will ask you to give permission for the doctors, teachers, therapists and other professionals who have information about your child’s condition to send the information to us. If you have any of your child’s medical or school records, please bring them with you. This will help speed up the decision on your application.

SSA will then send all of the information you give them to the Disability Determination Services in your state. Doctors and other trained staff in that state agency will review the information, and will request your child’s medical and school records, and any other information needed to decide if your child is disabled. If the state agency cannot make a disability decision using only the medical information, school records and other facts they have, they may ask you to take your child for a medical examination or test.

SSA will may make immediate SSI payments to your child.  It can take three to five months for the state agency to decide if your child is disabled. However, for some medical conditions, they make SSI payments right away and for up to six months while the state agency decides if your child is disabled.

The following are some conditions that may qualify:

  1. HIV infection;
  2. Total blindness;
  3. Total deafness;
  4. Cerebral palsy;
  5. Down syndrome;
  6. Muscular dystrophy;
  7. Severe intellectual disorder (child age 7 or older); and
  8. Birth weight below 2 pounds,10 ounces.

If your child has one of the qualifying conditions, he or she will get SSI payments right away. However, the state agency may finally decide that your child’s disability is not severe enough for SSI. If that happens, you will not have to pay back the SSI payments that your child got.

Once your child starts receiving SSI, the law requires that they review your child’s medical condition from time to time to verify that he or she is still disabled. This review must be done:

  1. At least every three years forchildren younger than age 18whose conditions are expecteto improve; and
  2. By age 1 for babies who are getting SSI payments because of their low birth weight.

SSA may perform a disability review even if your child’s condition is not expected to improve. When they do a review, you must present evidence that your child is and has been receiving treatment that is considered medically necessary for your child’s medical condition. For disability purposes in the SSI program, a child becomes an adult at age 18, and we use different medical and nonmedical rules when deciding if an adult can get SSI disability payments. For example, we do not count the income and resources of family members when deciding whether an adult meets the financial limits for SSI. They count only the adult’s income and resources. They also use the disability rules for adults when deciding whether an adult is disabled. If your child is already receiving SSI payments, we must review the child’s medical condition when he or she turns age 18. They usually do this review during the one-year period that begins on your child’s 18th birthday. If your child was not eligible for SSI before his or her 18th birthday because you and your spouse had too much income or resources, he or she may become eligible for SSI at age 18.