If you are caring for a child with special needs or are an adult who became disabled before the age of 22, Social Security benefits for children may be available under one of two different disability programs. Which program applies to you or your child depends upon the age of the applicant.
If your child is under the age of 18 and disabled, he or she may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits under the supplemental security income program or SSI. If you or your disabled child are 18 or older, you or the child are considered adults and may be entitled to social security disability benefits based on a parent’s social security earnings record.
Let’s look first at a child who is under the age of 18. In this case, any disability benefit will be payable under the SSI program. Under this program, the child must be determined to be disabled under the definition of disabled that the social security administration applies to children. The Social Security Administration considers a child disabled if:
Basically, what this means is that the child’s doctors will be relied upon to provide a medical diagnosis or description of the child’s impairment or condition. Teachers, counselors, and other people in the child’s life will need to provide evidence that, as a result of the condition or conditions, the child’s ability to function normally is seriously limited. This can be done by providing information regarding the child’s ability to learn new things, complete a task, interact with others, move from one place to another, use or play with objects, or take care of him or herself. Descriptions of the child’s Interaction with family members, fellow students, and other children in the neighborhood are all factors that can be considered.
Eligibility for SSI benefit is based on need and is not dependent upon the child or the child’s parents having participated in or paid into the Social Security retirement fund. Because the benefit is needs based, a child who is determined to be disabled must also pass the financial needs test in order to qualify for benefits. This test requires that the SSA determine what financial resources are available to the child. To be eligible for the benefit, the child’s own income and resources as well as income and resources available from parents and other members of the child’s household must not exceed the specified financial limits.
If you are a single parent or are out of work and are worried about being able to care for your disabled child you should not hesitate to apply for disability benefits on behalf of your child. SSI benefits for a disabled child are provided to help make it possible to provide necessary care. This is a benefit to your family and the community as a whole.
Now let’s look at disability benefits that may be available for an adult child. When your child turns 18 he or she is considered an adult and the determination of disability will be reviewed and measured according to the definition of disability that is applied to adult applicants. A disabled child who did not qualify for SSI because he or she did not meet the financial limits, may still be entitled to a “child’s” Social Security disability insurance benefits as an adult if their disability began before the age of 22. This Social Security benefit is referred to as a “child’s” benefit because qualification is based upon a parent’s social security earnings record.
In order for an adult child to qualify for disability benefits based on a parent’s earnings, one of his or her parents must be receiving Social Security benefits based on disability or retirement or must have died after having contributed to the Social Security fund for enough quarters to qualify for benefits. An adult child who qualifies for this benefit need not have ever worked or paid into the Social Security fund and the benefit will continue as long as he or she remains disabled.
An application for Social Security benefits for children can be confusing and complicated. A successful application can be life changing. Don’t try to go through this without first talking to an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Palma Law Offices, P.C. have helped many families successfully complete the application process. They can help you take this important step.