The standard for proving disability for children is different from that of adults. In order to be eligible for Child SSI benefits, you must meet both financial and medical requirements.
Child SSI benefits are available for children under the age of 18 if they meet the financial requirements and are found disabled. In order to meet the financial requirements, Social Security takes into account a child’s income and assets, and those of the family members living in the child’s household.
If the child is eligible financially for Child SSI, you then must prove that the child is disabled. There is a three step process used to determine if a child is disabled for child's SSI benefits:
Step 1: Is the child working and earning $1,170 per month?
If the child is working and earning over $1,170 per month from work, the claim will be denied.
Step 2: Does the child have a severe impairment?
In order to be found disabled, the child’s impairment must be considered severe. To be considered severe, the child’s condition must have lasted for a period of 12 months or longer, or be expected to last for 12 months or longer, or be expected to result in death.
Step 3: Does the child have a medical condition that meets, medically equals, or functionally equals one of the conditions listed on the government list of impairments?
If the child’s disability is listed on the government list of impairments, the next step is to determine if the child’s medical condition meets the specific criteria for that condition to automatically qualify for benefits. Most children do not meet this requirement, and thus it is necessary to see if the child’s condition medically equals or functionally equals the listing.
If the child’s impairment does not meet the requirements of the listing, it is then necessary to determine whether the child’s impairment medically equals the listing. To medically equal the listing, the child’s impairment must be at least equal in severity and duration to the criteria of any listed impairment.
If the child’s condition neither meets nor equals the listing, the child’s impairment must “functionally equal” the listing. To functionally equal the listing the child must have either “marked” limitations in two domains of functioning, or “extreme” limitations in one domain of functioning. A limitation is considered “marked” if it seriously interferes with the child's overall abilities. A limitation is considered “extreme” if it very seriously interferes with child's overall abilities.
The six domains of functioning are:
1. Acquiring and Using Information
2. Attending and Completing Tasks
3. Interacting and Relating with Others
4. Moving About and Manipulating Objects
5. Caring for Yourself
6. Health and Physical Well-Being
The rules for qualifying for Child SSI benefits are very strict and complex. If you believe your child might qualify for Child SSI benefits, contact me to learn more.