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Can I apply for SSI for my disabled child?

Caring for a disabled child can be both challenging and rewarding for parents who ultimately love their child and want to ensure their child is happy and thriving, despite their disability. However, some disabilities ultimately interfere with a child’s functioning, necessitating extensive medical care, therapy, home care and other expenses. When this happens, parents may want to learn more about pursuing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for their disabled child.

Children and the SSI disability program

Under Social Security’s rules, a person is considered a child for purposes of applying for SSI if they are not married, not head of a household, and under age 18. To be eligible for SSI benefits, a child must be either blind or disabled, per Social Security Administration standards. Benefits may begin as early as the child’s date of birth. A child may be eligible for SSI benefits until they reach age 18, at which point the SSA will evaluate the child’s impairment based on the adult definition of disability to determine whether to continue benefits.

What constitutes a “disability” for child SSI purposes?

A child is considered disabled, and thus eligible for SSI, if they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that results in severe functional limitations. In addition, the child’s impairment must last or be expected to last for at least 12 months or be expected to result in death.

What is “deeming?”

If a child is under age 18, is unmarried and resides with their parents who do not receive SSI benefits, the SSA will consider part of the parents’ income and resources when determining whether to award SSI. This process is known as “deeming.” Deeming will also occur if the child is temporarily away at school, but resides at home during weekends, holidays or the summer and are thus still subject to parental control.

Learn more about SSI

Applying for SSI can be the financial lifeline parents of a disabled child need, but it can also be a complex process. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Parents who want further information on SSI are encouraged to visit our firm’s website to learn more.