Being diagnosed with a disabling condition is not something you look forward to hearing or living with. Now, imagine being diagnosed with a disability as a child? It’s heartbreaking as a parent and discouraging as a child.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the need that children under 18 years of age require as a result of a medically disabling condition. Even though Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is typically awarded to persons over 65 years of age who are either blind or have low income, the SSA offers those who are under the age of 18 supplemental security income if he or she has a qualified physical or mental condition and limited income and resources as well.
As with adults who qualify for SSI, children may also receive a supplemental payment from their state in addition to their SSI payment-- however, the State of Florida does not participate in this program and no additional supplement is available for residents of Florida. However, when a child is being evaluated for SSI, his or her family member’s, living in the child’s household, income and resources are evaluated as well; if those resources and/or income are above the allowed amount, then the child’s application will be denied.
SSI Qualifications for Children Under 18
There are specific requirements that a child under the age of 18 must meet if he or she is to be considered disabled and eligible for SSI. According to the Social Security Administration, the following must all be met, including:
- A child who is working and earning less than $1,130 a month in 2016
- A child who is medically diagnosed with a physical, mental, or combination of conditions, that severely inhibit the functioning abilities limiting their daily activities
- A child whose condition(s) must have been disabling, or expected to be disabling for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death
The Social Security Administration also requires detailed information and documentation from professionals including the child’s teachers, doctors etc. This information is necessary and must be provided to the SSA in order for a child to be eligible for SSI.
Making a decision can take anywhere between 3 to 5 months; however, depending on the child’s condition, sometimes payments can be made right away for up to six months; these payments are called Presumptive SSI benefits. Some qualifying conditions for receiving payment right away include:
- HIV infection with specific symptoms and/or lab findings
- Total blindness
- Total Deafness
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down Syndrome
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Severe intellectual disability at the age of 7 or older
- Birth weight being below 2 pounds 10 ounces
SSI Children Reviews
Anyone who is receiving disability benefits-- adult, child, SSDI or SSI-- is subject to routine reviews conducted by the Social Security Administration. This is for accuracy and accountability purposes. While it is your responsibility to notify the SSA of any changes and improvements in your child’s condition, the SSA will also continue monitoring your child’s condition through routine reviews.
These are typically conducted every 3 years for children who are younger than 18 and whose condition is expected to improve. However, for babies who are getting SSI payments because of low birth weight, if their medical condition isn’t expected to improve by their 1st birthday, then the SSA will schedule a review for a later date.
When you turn 18, the SSI will use different rules, both medical and nonmedical, to decide if you will continue receiving SSI disability payments as an adult, such as not including family and household member income and resources.