Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can my child receive Social Security Disability benefits?

If you have a child suffering from a mental or physical disability, you may be wondering if you can obtain Social Security Disability benefits for him or her.  The answer is YES you can.  Many children suffer from disabilities that qualify them for Social Security Disability benefits.  A child younger than 18 can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if (1) he or she meets Social Security's definition of disability for children and (2) his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.

What medical conditions would meet Social Security's definition of disability for a child?
There are various medical conditions -- both physical and mental conditions -- that would meet Social Security's definition of disability.  Some of these conditions include: autism, growth impairments, conditions related to the muskuloskeletal system, vision and hearing problems and asthma.  In general the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking to see if a child has a physical or mental condition (or combination of conditions) that results in severe limitations to their ability to function at home, school and in the community.  In addition, the condition must have been disabling, or expected to be disabling, for at least 12 months.

For most cases, the SSA will follow the normal procedures in determining whether your child qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits.  However, for some medical conditions SSA will make SSI payments right away for up to 6 months while it determines whether your child is disabled.  The conditions that may qualify include: HIV infection, total blindness, total deafness, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe intellectual disorder, and birth weight below 2 pounds and 10 ounces.  If SSA then decides that your child is not eligible for SSI benefits, you will not be required to pay this money back.

How does SSA determine the income and resources for a child?
When deciding if a child can receive SSI benefits, SSA will consider the child's income and resources as well as the income and resources of family members living in the child's household.

What happens when my child turns 18?
When a child turns 18, SSA will reevaluate whether the child is still eligible for SSI benefits under the medical and non-medical rules that apply to adults.  Your child will continue to receive SSI benefits if his or her medical and financial conditions qualify him or her for benefits under the rules that apply to adults.  A major difference is that SSA does not count income and resources of family members when assessing whether an adult meets the financial requirements for SSI benefits.  This means that many children who could not qualify for SSI benefits because their parents' income and resources were too high would be able to qualify at the age of 18.

If you have any questions regarding whether you child qualifies for SSI benefits, you should contact an attorney that is experienced in handing Social Security Disability benefits.

This is NOT legal advice.  This blog provides general information about Social Security Disability cases.  To discuss your particular circumstances and claim, please contact a lawyer in your area.

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