Supplemental Security Income for Children with Disabilities
A child with disabilities may be eligible for assistance under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI is a cash assistance program that is funded and administered by the federal government. Its primary purpose is to provide a minimum level of income to people who are unable to work to support themselves.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Eligibility
Your special needs child may be eligible for SSI assistance if he or she meets the following criteria:
- A resident of one of the United States or a U.S. citizen who lives outside the U.S. with a parent in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- A citizen of the U.S. or an alien whose immigration category qualifies him to receive federal benefits.
- Not absent from the U.S. for a calendar month, unless he is a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S. with a parent in the U.S. Armed Forces or a student temporarily living abroad for study purposes.
In addition to these and other general requirements, your child must meet SSI's disability and income and resource guidelines to be eligible for assistance.
SSI Disability Guidelines
To meet the definition of disability for adults under the Social Security Act, an individual must be unable to engage in work to provide a sufficient income for living. The disability must be due to a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment that:
- Has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, or
- Is expected to result in death
Under Social Security guidelines, a person under age 18 is disabled if he or she has a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment. This impairment must result in one or more severe functional limitations with a prognosis that falls within the guidelines of a disability for adults.
Income and Resource Guidelines
Eligibility for SSI also depends on an individual's ability to meet the following income and resource guidelines:
- Monthly income cannot exceed the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), also known as the Federal Payment Standard or the SSI Standard Benefit. As of January 2009, the FBR is $674 for an individual and $1,011 for a couple. Cost-of-living adjustments are made annually, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- Real or personal property (including cash) holdings at the beginning of each month cannot exceed SSI countable resource limits. According to SSI rules, countable resources include cash or other liquid assets and any other real or personal property that you could convert to cash to pay for your support and maintenance. As of January 2009, the applicable limits are $2,000 for an individual without a spouse and $3,000 for a couple.
How to Apply for Supplemental Security Income
To apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) call your local Social Security office to schedule an appointment. Find your state by clicking here. Parents or guardians can apply for blind or disabled children under age 18. In order to complete your application, you must produce the following documentation:
- Your child's Social Security card or a record of his/her Social Security number
- Birth certificate or other proof of age
- Information about housing costs
- Bank statements, payroll stubs, and other income and resource information
- Names and contact information of doctors, hospitals, and clinics that have treated your child
- Proof of your child's U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen status
- Bank account number (for direct deposit)
You may also be entitled to money if your child has cerebral palsy that was caused by negligent medical care. Sokolove Law has more than 40 years of experience representing families like yours in cerebral palsy cases resulting from substandard care. Our team of skilled Legal Nurses will listen to your concerns and help get your questions answered.