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Can children with disabilities get Social Security benefits?

The SSA offers support for disabled children and adults though the Supplemental Security Income. Here’s how you can apply for the benefits payments.

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Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty ImagesAFP via Getty Images

Across 2021, an average of 65 million Americans received payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) every month, totalling more than $1 trillion in financial support.

The retirement benefits are perhaps the most well-known of the SSA’s programs but there is also the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability or blindness.

To be eligible for the support, recipients must have a household income and resources below certain thresholds.

Who is eligible for Social Security Income benefits?

For children, eligibility for the SSI is fairly straight-forward and based on two metrics: the presence of a significant physical or mental disability; and proof that the child or their guardians require the financial support.

Firstly, children under the age of age must suffer from a condition which “very seriously limits his or her activities.” The condition must have been present, or be expected to last, for at least one year, or be likely to result in death.

In addition to the medical requirements, the recipient’s entitlement is based on their financial situation. The applicant will have to provide details regarding their household’s countable income (learn more about what income is included in this measure) and resources owned.

For example, income from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), income tax refunds, home energy assistance and certain educational grants will not be included.

As the SSA explains: “Generally, the more countable income you have, the less your SSI benefit will be. If your countable income is over the allowable limit, you cannot receive SSI benefits. Some of your income may not count as income for the SSI program.”

How can you apply for Social Security support for your child?

The easiest way to begin your application for SSI is to utilise the SSA’s online claim portal. The initial step will take just ten minutes and requires only basic information, such as the claimant’s personal details and contact information.

After finishing that initial application, a representative from the SSA will be in touch to schedule an appointment, typically within 7-14 days.

If you are unable to start your claim online, or would rather do so over the phone, you can call to file your application and request an appointment.

Call the SSA on 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can also call on TTY 1-800-325-0778.

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