What is the Difference Between Child SSI and Adult SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is designed to help people who have limited income and limited resources as well as a disability. Adults qualify for SSI if their disabilities prevent them from working. The eligibility requirements for children are different, but applicants must be careful to present medical evidence alongside their application to prove that their children meet all the criteria. The following information can help parents of disabled or blind children who are applying for SSI.

Who Is Eligible for Adult SSI and Child SSI?

For the purposes of applying for SSI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a child as anyone who is under the age of 18 years old, as well as those who are under age 22 and are students who regularly attend school.

There is no minimum age for child SSI eligibility. Children can be eligible as soon as they are born, as long as they meet the medical criteria.

Even minors who are married or head of their household can be eligible for child SSI. This eligibility lasts until they turn 18, or until they turn 22 if they are still regularly attending school. Beyond that point, they might be eligible for adult SSI, depending on their personal circumstances and medical condition.

Medical Requirements for Child SSI

To be eligible for child SSI, a child must be categorized as either disabled or blind by the SSA.

The SSA defines disabled to mean “a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments which result in marked and severe functional limitations.” This impairment must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months, or to result in death, for the child to be eligible.

Blind children must meet the same definition of blind as adults to be eligible for SSI. In technical terms, that means:

  • The child must have a central visual acuity of 20/20 or less (while wearing a corrective lens) in their better eye.
  • The child must have a visual field limitation in their better eye that restricts the widest diameter of the visual field to no more than 20 degrees.

Medical Requirements for Adult SSI

For adults, the definition of disability is closely tied to your ability to work. The SSA defines disability in adults as the “inability to do any substantial gainful activity.” In layman’s terms, that generally means that the disability prevents you from working.

Like child SSI, adult SSI carries a requirement that the disability has lasted or is predicted to last for at least 12 months continuously, or that it is predicted to result in death.

Limited Income Requirements for Child and Adult SSI

Adults must meet certain income requirements to be eligible to receive SSI. Adults’ income is counted as including everything that you earn through work, as well as money that you get from other benefits, and assistance that you get in the form of free food, cash, or shelter from your friends, relatives, or any other source.

As children do not usually have their own source of income from work, the requirements for child SSI are somewhat different. If a child is unmarried, under the age of 18, and lives at home with one or both of their parents, their parents’ income and resources will be taken into account when deciding the child’s eligibility for SSI.

When a child’s parents are separated, working out how much of each parent’s income to take into account can be complicated. Children who live part-time with one parent and partly with the other might have their eligibility affected by both parents’ income. The income of stepparents can also be taken into account if they live with the child.

The complicated process of working out whose income to take into account is called “deeming.” It can be very difficult to understand, so it is a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in child SSI applications.

Are You Eligible for Child SSI or Adult SSI?

The best way to work out whether you are eligible for adult SSI is to consult an attorney’s office. The Good Law Group has helped many disabled and blind adults to apply for SSI. We only proceed with cases that we believe have a good chance of success based on the available evidence.

The same advice applies if you are planning to apply for child SSI on behalf of yourself, your child, or your stepchild. An attorney can help you to understand the complicated eligibility requirements and maximize your chance of making a successful application for child SSI.

How to Apply for Child SSI or Adult SSI

Child SSI and adult SSI have very similar application processes. In both cases, you must send your application and all supporting evidence to the Social Security Administration so they can assess your case.

In general, the best first step to take when applying for child SSI or adult SSI is to schedule a case evaluation with an attorney’s office. Get in touch with The Good Law Group today to find out whether you or your child could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income.