My Child Has a Disability: Qualifying for Benefits

Do Children Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Some Social Security Administration (SSA) programs are paid for by payroll taxes, which may create some confusion when a child is the disabled individual. Children don’t typically pay payroll taxes, but disabled children qualify for some benefits. Parents and caregivers may seek disability benefits for children in three situations:

  • Disabled children under the age of 18 may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. When determining eligibility, the Social Security Administration will consider the resources and income of the child (if any), as well as the resources or income of the family or household of the child.
  • Adults over the age of 18 who sustained a disability before the age of 22 may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, which are determined by the Social Security earnings of the parents.
  • If a disabled child has a parent who qualifies for Social Security disability or retirement, the child may qualify for a disabled adult child benefit after their 18th birthday.

Qualifying for Benefits If Your Child Has a Disability

The Social Security Administration may consider your child disabled and eligible for benefits if the following conditions are met:

  • The child is expected to remain disabled for at least twelve months, has been disabled for the past twelve months or is expected to pass away due to their disability or condition.
  • The child must meet SSA definitions of disability, which means the child must have a serious mental or physical disability (or a combination of disabilities) causing significant limitations.
  • The child must not earn more than a specific limit each month (and this limit changes every year).

Applying for Benefits

If your child is disabled, applying for benefits is similar to applying for benefits when an adult is disabled. You will need to prove that your child has a severe condition or conditions that affect his or her ability to function. While children will not receive benefits to cover wage loss, the benefits they do receive may help pay for medical care, childcare and other needed services. Benefits may also be important to help children receive the education and support they need to be as independent as possible.

The SSA starts SSI payments for some children immediately, while an application is pending. If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, complete blindness or deafness, Down syndrome or other qualifying conditions, you may be able to receive SSI payments sooner. In addition, if an infant is born with a weight of under 2 pounds and 10 ounces, the child’s family may qualify for benefits right away.

Applications can be denied if adequate medical support is not provided for the disability. The SSA will examine medical records, and the child will need to be examined by an approved medical professional to determine the extent of the disability.

In addition, reviews will be performed to evaluate whether the disability has changed or improved with time. For babies who qualify for SSI because of the low birthrate, the first review will occur by age one. For most children under the age of 18 who have a condition that may improve, reviews will occur every three years. Eligibility benefits may change if a disabled child starts to work, enters or ends schooling, turns 18 or gets married.

Parents of children with severe disabilities require support. If you would like more support in applying for the correct benefits or need representation because your request for benefits was denied, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco.

Lisa M. Ritacco focuses on SSI, SSDI and workers’ compensation claims, ensuring she has the background to support claimants with serious conditions. Contact the office of Lisa M. Ritacco today for a consultation if you may be eligible for benefits.