Raising children is expensive. Raising a child with a disability can be even more so. The cost of therapies, transportation, special equipment, and modifications to your home quickly add up, leaving parents stressed, overwhelmed, and searching for financial relief. For some, that relief is found in SSD benefits. Learn about the application process for SSDI and kids.

SSD Benefits for Children

First, a clarification – disabled children are ineligible for SSDI benefits based on their disability. (There are situations where a child can receive social security dependent benefits, based on their parents’ status, but a child’s disability status is irrelevant in these situations.) That’s because eligibility for SSDI benefits is based in part on an applicant’s work history. SSDI is an insurance program that workers pay into through mandatory payroll contributions, and eligibility for SSDI benefits depends on how many quarters a person has worked. No child under the age of 18, regardless of how long he’s worked, will meet these requirements.

Instead, children with a disability may be eligible for SSI benefits, which are available to low-income individuals. Eligibility for benefits is based on the child’s medical condition meeting the SSA’s disability criteria, as well as the child meeting the SSD income limits.

To be eligible, an individual may not earn more than $1,180 (for 2018) per month to qualify. When determining eligibility, the SSA considers a parent’s income as well as their child’s. For example, an 8-year-old who qualifies based on her cerebral palsy diagnosis will nevertheless be ineligible for SSD benefits if her parents earn more than $1,180 per month.

SSD Child Listings

The SSA blue book contains a list of qualifying disabilities for children. Similar to the adult disabilities listings, the child listings are broken down into 15 broad categories that encompass every bodily system. These categories are:

  1. Low Birth Weight & Failure to Thrive
  2. Musculoskeletal System
  3. Special Senses & Speech
  4. Respiratory Disorders
  5. Cardiovascular System
  6. Digestive System
  7. Genitourinary Disorders
  8. Hematological Disorders
  9. Skin Disorders
  10. Endocrine Disorders
  11. Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Parts
  12. Neurological Disorders
  13. Mental Disorders
  14. Cancer
  15. Immune System Disorders

Each category includes a number of different medical conditions that could potentially qualify a child for SSD benefits, such as learning disabilities, asthma or amputation. Each condition has its own set of criteria. In order for the child’s application to be approved, his medical records must show that his condition meets or exceeds each criterion for his specific condition.

Children who do not meet the SSA’s disability criteria may still qualify for SSI if their parents can prove that the condition causes marked and severe limitations. This means that the disability severely limits the child’s ability to perform activities of daily living.

Applying for SSD Benefits for a Child

Applying for SSD benefits for a child is similar to the adult application process. You must complete an application and a child disability report. The report, which can be completed online (the application itself, however, cannot be done online), requests information about your child’s medical history, medical records, education and work history.

The disability examiner at your local SSA field office will review the application to determine whether your child’s condition meets or exceeds a disability listing. If it doesn’t, he will look to whether the condition severely limits your child’s ability to perform basic functions, and whether those limitations are expected to last for more than a year. The examiner will also verify whether your child meets the SSD income limits.

Taxes, Child Support, and SSD Benefits for Children

Children are required to file an income tax return if their income for the year exceeds certain levels. However, SSI benefits paid to a child based on their disability are not considered income and are therefore not taxable (there are different rules for a child who receives SSDI through a parent).

Child support laws, however, may impact the amount of SSD benefits a child is eligible to receive. If a parent is required to make child support payments on behalf of the child, the SSA counts two-thirds of the monthly child support amount as unearned income to the child. This results in a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the monthly SSI benefit amount.

For example, Clara’s son John receives $750 per month in SSI benefits. Clara gets a monthly $300 child support payment from John’s father. Two-thirds – or $200 – of that monthly child support payment is counted as unearned income to John. As a result, John’s monthly SSI benefit is reduced by $200, leaving him $550 per month in SSI benefits.

Do you have a child and are considering an application for SSI benefits? Complete our online form for a complimentary case evaluation or call us at #(847) 577-4476.