Can Children with Disabilities Qualify for Supplemental Security Income?

Social Security pays disability benefits for two separate programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The SSDI is the most common type of disability program in use and is based on earning a certain number of work credits depending on your age. However, according to experts and NGOs, the SSI program doesn’t require work credits to qualify for benefits.

Children with disabilities can qualify for the needs-based SSI program, which currently pays a maximum benefit of $794 per month as of 2021. The cash payment is awarded to children to meet their basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. Disabled children can qualify from birth to age 18. The disability must meet the standards of the Social Security Administration for disability as outlined by the Social Security Disability Determination Services.

According to the Social Security Administration, disability is defined as an inability to work or engage in any substantial activity for financial gain because of medically verified physical or mental impairments. These impairments must be expected to result in eventual death, and they should also continue for at least 12 months. Disabled children must have little or no income and few financial resources. Depending on family income, the maximum benefit is reduced accordingly. 

Other Important Facts Regarding Benefits

People who qualify for SSI might also qualify for SSDI benefits, and one application can cover both SSDI and SSI benefits. Other important information includes:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance benefits depend on earning credits to cover insurance premiums.
  • SSI benefits don‘t depend on paying any premiums and are strictly need-based.
  • Workers who receive SSI or SSDI benefits may also work in Work Incentive Programs and receive other public benefits like health insurance, food stamps, etc.
  • The work is based on Work Incentive Programs.

Children can’t earn more than $1,930 per month or $7,770 per year, which changes each year based on inflation. So it’s important to find an experienced SSD lawyer to help you win SSI and SSDI approval. The lawyer can also handle any appeals to negative decisions, speed up approval, and work on a contingency basis so disabled children can receive benefits and the chance to a healthy, normal life. 

Compassionate Allowances

As per the Social Security Administration, Compassionate Allowances, abbreviated CAL, are lists of medical conditions and diseases that automatically qualify a child for SSI benefits and meet the disability standards of SSDI benefits. The list includes blindness, certain types of cancers, adult brain disorders, and rare childhood disorders.

CAL helps to reduce waiting time for benefits application approval, which makes things easier for people with severe disabilities. The SSA can make fast decisions based on modern technology advances for identifying CAL disorders. In addition, social Security can access information from multiple sources like community organizations, advocacy groups, and public agencies to guide the agency’s decisions.

Other Benefit Requirements

SSI payments are limited to $30 for a child attending a medical facility covering all care expenses. Children must also meet these requirements:

  • Children must not earn more than $1,350 in 2022.
  • Blind children must not work or earn more than $2,260.
  • Children who receive SSI benefits also qualify for Medicaid coverage.
  • The child must have a disability that causes “marked and
    severe functional limitations.”
  • The child’s disability prognosis is expected to last at least 12 months or expected to end in death.

Varying Benefits from State to State

Benefits can vary based on your home state. Some states add a premium to SSI benefits. SSA considers household income and resources when deciding on eligibility and setting the monthly benefit. The rules apply when the child lives at home or attends school but returns home periodically and remains under parental and guardian control.

If you want to ensure your child receives benefits, it is best to get in touch with an experienced law firm in your area to guide you through the process and give you the best advice according to your situation.

About the author: Leland D. Bengtson

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As a journalist, Leland dedicated most of his career to law reporting. His greatest satisfaction is to convey legal matters to the public in a language that they can understand. He is active on various platforms and media outlets, writing about common legal issues that people confront with every day. While medical malpractice is his strong suit, Leland covers plenty of other topics, including personal injury cases, family law, and other civil and even criminal legal matters.


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