Can a child get Social Security benefits for a disability?

Missouri parents of children with disabilities face many challenges. Not least among these is the financial stress that comes from paying for medical care, special education programs and rehabilitation. A parent’s health insurance may not cover many of these expenses.

Fortunately, for many families help may be available in the form of monthly Supplemental Security Income payments from the Social Security Administration. The child can qualify for SSI payments if they are under age 18, have a mental or physical disability that meets the SSA’s requirements and the resources and income of the child and the family do not exceed certain limits.

A qualifying disability for a child is any mental or physical condition that places severe and marked limitations on the child’s ability to function. The disability must have existed for at least a year, or it must be expected to lead to the child’s death. Some of the conditions that may be eligible if they are disabling include total blindness or deafness, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and HIV infection. A severe intellectual disability will qualify if the child is age 7-years-old or older.

The SSA will also look at the child’s income and financial resources as well as those of the family. Children will not be considered disabled if they are employed and earn more than $1,130 per month in 2016. This maximum earnings figure may change in 2017.

To apply for SSI for a disabled child, the parents must submit exhaustive information about the medical condition and its effect on the child’s ability to function. The SSA will also seek authorization to collect information about the child’s condition from teachers, physicians and therapists.

The process of applying for SSI for a child can be confusing and intimidating. An attorney who practices in the field of Social Security disability benefits for illness can provide invaluable help.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Benefits For Children With Disabilities: 2016,” accessed Nov. 13, 2016

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