Social Security for Children
One segment of the population that is rarely considered when discussing Social Security benefits is children. This may be because we typically associate disabilities with older individuals. Additionally, a primary form of disability benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance, is not available to individuals unless they have obtained the requisite number of work credits, so children are necessarily precluded as direct recipients. But children born with disabilities may require additional support or medical treatment and often can benefit from financial support. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our government benefits attorneys have helped many Massachusetts parents evaluate what disability options may be available for their children.Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Although children cannot receive SSDI, they are eligible to receive SSI, which is an alternative benefits program available to low-income individuals who become disabled, including children. Accordingly, there are income and asset limitations on who can qualify for SSI. When evaluating income levels for child applicants, the income and resources of the child are considered, but the income of family members, such as parents, is also factored in. This is because most children do not receive an income, and thus all would qualify for SSI if parental income was not considered.
Assuming a child meets basic income and asset level qualifications, the next question is whether the child is medically eligible for SSI. SSI has three medical eligibility requirements for children. The child must not be working or otherwise earning more than $1,040 per month, the child must have “marked and severe” functional limitations that severely interfere with his or her ability to function at a level similar to his or her peers, and the child must have been disabled for at least 12 months or be expected to be disabled for 12 months or more. These qualifications are deemed “threshold” issues, and meeting all three does not mean that a child will be considered disabled. However, if all three are not met, the child cannot qualify for SSI.
As a final step, if a child meets income and asset requirements, and threshold medical eligibility, the child next proceeds to a full disability determination, in which the SSA considers whether the child is disabled based on either existing disability listings or marked and severe limitations that affect the child’s ability to function on a daily basis. Since children often experience disease in a different way than adults, the SSA’s Book of Impairment Listings includes a specific section dedicated to disability listings for children.Alternatives to SSI
If your child does not qualify for SSI, there may be alternative options for disability benefits available. Children, whether disabled or not, can qualify for SSDI benefits if their parent is receiving SSDI. These are known as dependent benefits, and a child can be eligible for up to 50% of what the parent receives as a dependent benefit. Additionally, children who are disabled are entitled to an extension of dependent benefits as a young adult. This is known as an “adult child benefit.” If the child remains disabled upon turning 18 or becomes disabled before 22, SSDI dependent benefits can continue for as long as the disability lasts.Consult a Social Security Attorney for an Application in Massachusetts
Dealing with a disabled child can be extremely physically and emotionally taxing. Disabled children demand the time and resources that any normal child would, but with additional challenges and medical issues. Luckily, there are options available for government support to assist with caring for a disabled child. If you are in a low-income household, your child may qualify for SSI. Otherwise, if you or another family member are currently receiving disability, your child may qualify for SSDI dependent benefits. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our Social Security lawyers can help Massachusetts residents determine whether their children might be eligible for SSI, or if other options may be available. Contact our office for more information at (800) 367-0871 or online. We represent individuals throughout the Boston and Merrimack River areas as well as in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.