Child’s Disability Benefits

Disabled Child Benefits (SSI)

SSI benefits, as explained above, are available to adults (those over 18 years old) who have do not have enough work history to fully benefit from the Social Security Disability Insurance benefit program. The SSI benefits program is extended to newborn children up to 18 years of age. Social Security, however, reviews these SSI applications differently. Household income dictates your child’s eligibility to apply for SSI. Too much income, assets, or resources can block an SSI application.

For example, a disabled child with autism may not be eligible for SSI if one or both parents work full- time. There are exceptions, however, depending on family size. Social Security makes these “financial need” decisions before it makes any medical decisions about your child. Our lawyers frequently tell parents that there may be NO QUESTION that their children are disabled. We explain that Social Security will make no medical decisions until they first decide whether there is financial need.

Our law offices recommends always getting a written SSI determination explaining the financial calculation that household income and assets blocks consideration of the medical portion of your child’s SSI. This way, you will know what financial changes in your household may allow an application for your child’s SSI benefits at a later date. This will also lock in an SSI application filing date if putting the SSI decision to writing reveals an error. We know if instances when a Social Security claims representative will simply tell a family that SSI is not available without processing the SSI application. There is no proof of this “discussion”. Our lawyers, therefore, recommend to our clients that they need a paper trail to prove errors. A later SSI filing date can cost you money.

Once you prove household “financial need” in your child’s SSI claim, Social Security evaluates your child’s medical conditions. Social Security’s medical standards ofdisability for children are different than those for adults. The legal standard of disability for adults is work-based. The legal standard of disability for children is function-based. The question is can your child’s medical and (when relevant) school records prove he or she meets defined medical standards of disability (called “listings”) or have two marked areas, or one extreme area, of problems functioning like other children the same age (called “functionally equaling domains”).

Childhood SSI claims can be more involved than adult disability claims because SSA inquires about how child-aged children can function (or in theory, will function) at school. This goes beyond the medical records. Our attorneys are regularly argue children’s SSI claims. Our clients can direct particular legal questions about child SSI benefits claims to us. To find out if your child qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits complete our Free Disability Evaluation.

Surviving Child’s Benefits

Children of deceased workers can receive Surviving Child’s benefits through age 18 or later under certain circumstances. The monthly amount comes from a fixed percentage of the deceased parent’s monthly Social Security benefit had that parent retired (primary insurance benefit, or “PIA”). Benefits flow to the caregiving parents of the deceased under certain circumstances as well.

Dependent Child Benefits, called “Auxiliary” Benefits

Dependent children under 18 (and others under certain circumstances) can receive monthly benefits if a parent is entitled to a high enough level of monthly Disability Insurance benefits. The monthly dependent child payments go to where the child’s caregiver in the name of the child. For multiple dependent children, each receives equal shares of a “family maximum” amount. Dependent child auxiliary benefits are processed in an “application” just after the disabled parent receives his or her award letter for Disability Insurance Benefits. Our  lawyers counsel our clients about these payments. For example, we remind our clients with child support obligations to assume state family courts do not recognize retroactive and ongoing Dependent Child Benefits payments. We can refer our clients to family lawyers who can specifically raise this child support issue.