When you have a child who is born with a disability or your child becomes ill with a disease that is expected to last for 12 months or more or end in their death, it may be possible to collect social security disability payments on behalf of the child. In order to qualify, the child must meet the strict disability criteria and the parents must meet the income requirements in order to collect benefits.
Defining Disability in Children
The Social Security Administration allows parents to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on behalf of their children from birth through the age of 18. The strict definition they use to determine eligibility is:
- The child must have a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits his or her activities; and
- The condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year or result in death.
Children who meet these criteria and qualify on a financial basis may be able to receive monthly payments from the Social Security Administration until they (a) get married, (b) are able to support themselves financially or (c) turn 18. One exception to the rule of receiving benefits is when the child is still a full-time student and has not completed high school. Additional exceptions may apply if the child meets the legal definition of blindness, which may be defined as a child who has vision of 20/200 in their best eye or peripheral vision of less than 20 degrees in the better eye.
Adult Benefits for Disabled Children
There are different scenarios for disabled children who are no longer eligible for benefits because they have reached the age of 18. First, the child who is still attending school may continue to receive benefits until they are aged 19 or within two months of graduating, whichever comes first. If the child has a parent who is collecting social security benefits at that time, they may be eligible to collect benefits from their parent’s earnings at that time. If the child is still unable to work, the disability started before age 22 and they are unmarried, they may be able to collect payment under the benefits offered to the retiring parent.
Disability Payments and Health Care
It is important to understand that heath care benefits are not part of the social security administration. Generally, someone collecting social security disability would be eligible for health care benefits under Medicaid within two years of receiving disability payments. Many states have programs for children with disabilities including State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which offers access to health care coverage.
Getting Help Applying for Children’s Disability
Parents who have a child with a serious disability are often facing overwhelming costs to care for the child properly. Social Security disability payments can help take some of the financial worry and stress away. However, the application process, interviews, and medical exams can be frustrating and oftentimes, the initial application is rejected.
If you are a parent of a child born with a serious disability, a child who is legally blind or your child has been diagnosed with an illness that qualifies them to collect benefits, your best option is to work with a social security disability attorney at the outset.
Work With an Attorney
The Social Security Administration carefully scrutinizes every application for disability for children. Generally, parents will fill out what appears to be a simple form only to be asked to provide numerous documents including medical records, doctors’ statements, and tax returns. An attorney can help you prepare prior to filing an application to increase your odds of approval.
The social security administration can help your child achieve independence as they get older if they have the physical and emotional ability to work including offering programs for training. However, many parents do not understand the benefits they may be entitled to in the event they have a child who is suffering a disability. If you have a child who is disabled and believe they may be entitled to the various benefits offered by social security, contact an attorney who understands the child disability rules for assistance.
In the event you have already applied for disability benefits for your child because they are blind or suffered another form of disability and were denied, you need to contact a social security disability attorney immediately. The appeals process can be very confusing and any mistakes could result in a second denial. Time is generally of the essence when filing an appeal, failure to file in a timely manner could result in having to start the entire process again.