Children can be eligible for Social Security disability payments, just like adults.
The idea of a disabled child may sound a little strange. After all, children are not expected to work in order to support themselves like adults. Even so, a child can be found disabled and be eligible for disability benefits if they have a combination of physical or mental disabilities that cause significant limitations to the child’s activities and have lasted, or are expected to last for at least one year or result in the death of the child. These benefits may be available to a newborn child until they have reached the age of eighteen. Social Security disability benefits may even be extended past this age under certain circumstances related to their education. While there are also ways for a child to receive benefits due to a parent’s disability, that will not be discussed in this article.
Before you start going through the child disability application process, it is important to first find out if your child is eligible for disability payments. The Social Security Administration places limits on the amount of household income and other resources a family has when determining whether a child may be eligible for Social Security disability payments. You should consult with your Social Security disability attorney or a representative of the Social Security Administration to determine whether your child may be eligible. Interestingly, the Social Security Administration will exclude much of the child’s own earnings when making decisions about disability payments.
For a child’s condition to be eligible for Social Security disability payments, the child must have severe (known as “marked”) limitations in two areas of functioning, or an “extreme” limitation in at least one area. The six areas evaluate your child’s ability to acquire and use information, complete tasks, interact and relate to others, manipulate objects, take care of themselves, and their overall health and physical well-being. A child’s abilities in each of these six domains will be evaluated based upon their age range and a typical child’s milestones in that range.
A “marked” limitation seriously interferes with a child’s ability to initiate, sustain, or complete tasks independently. “Extreme” limitations do not require a total loss of ability to function. These definitions are not very exact, which is one of the reasons that state examiners and administrative law judges will review your case.\
The first domain reviews a child’s ability to learn new information and is based upon typical milestones for children. They include not only performance in school, but their ability to communicate, read, write, and use numbers. Examples of marked or extreme limitations in this area include trouble understanding concepts like time of day, inability to remember important things learned in school the day before, trouble with math problems or explaining an idea, or talking in no more than short sentences.
The second domain reviews a child’s ability to concentrate on a given activity and to work at a normal rate for children at their age range. This includes following directions, completing school assignments, and doing chores in the home. Children that do not complete tasks that interest them, are easily distracted, need additional help to concentrate on their work, or give up on tasks too easily may have marked or extreme limitations in this domain.
The third domain reviews a child’s ability to interact with others. This domain includes forming relationships with family and friends of the same age groups, know how to act appropriately in different settings (in public compared to at home), speaking with others, ability to express emotions and respond to the emotions of others, and be able to understand other people’s points of view. Children who do not have friends their own age, cannot talk clearly or understandably, or avoid other people may have marked or extreme limitations in this domain.
The fourth domain reviews a child’s ability to move and handle objects and move themselves from one place to another. Infants should be able to sit, crawl, stand up with support, and grab objects after a certain age. As they get older, the child’s ability to use a pencil and scissors, tie their shoes, walk and run, and play all bear on this domain. Marked or extreme limitations in this domain may include problems using their hands, trouble running or riding a bicycle, bad hand-eye coordination, or trouble gripping small objects or using tools.
The fifth domain reviews a child’s physical and mental ability to take care of themselves. On the physical side, this may include their ability to get dressed, groom themselves, and eventually prepare simple meals. Mentally, the child should be able to understand what types of behavior are appropriate, understanding and responding to their own needs and desires, and make the connection between their actions and consequences for their actions. Marked or extreme limitations in this domain may include engaging in dangerous activities, having trouble performing basic grooming, poor eating or sleeping habits, or hurting themselves deliberately.
The sixth domain reviews a child’s health and physical well-being. This domain is where most physical impairments and side-effects of treatments are considered. Long-lasting injuries, physical deformities, motor or sensory problems, frequent hospitalizations, and other physical problems are all reviewed as part of this domain. Marked or extreme limitations in this area could include frequent hospitalizations, need for multiple surgeries, or requiring frequent or intensive medical care to avoid a serious decline in the child’s health.
Evaluating a child’s performance in all these domains requires a broader range of evidence than would be required for an ordinary adult application for Social Security disability benefits. In addition to medical records and statements from medical treatment providers, a Lowell child Social Security disability claim will usually request information from teachers and other adults who helped take care of the child for significant periods of time. When preparing to make a child Social Security disability claim, you should prepare a list of the schools the child attended over the past year (although the last two or three years would be better). You should also try to gather the contact information (name, address, phone number, and email) of the child’s teachers, caregivers, counselors, speech or other therapists, and other adults who spent significant time with the child. With this information, Social Security representatives can send information requests to these people. The statements these people prepare will be used to help a Social Security disability examiner review the child’s abilities to function in these six domains.
An application for child disability payments will be evaluated on six factors. Each factor is detailed here, complete with what the examiner is likely to find sufficient.