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SSI for Children

Children are legally entitled to collect Social Security Insurance benefits (SSI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are three main ways in which children can receive benefits. It can be confusing since the term Social Security is most often associated with a person who is now retired and receiving the benefits they paid into during their career. But this is a benefit of paying into the system; your children can receive payments if they become disabled before adulthood or if they are the child of a disabled adult, or of a retired adult.

How Do Kids Qualify for Benefits?

In order for your child to qualify for benefits, he or she must meet the following criteria:

  • The child has a parent who is either disabled or retired and who is eligible themselves to receive benefits from the SSA
  • The child is not married
  • The child is under the age of 18, or is no older than 19 if they are still enrolled in high school full-time
  • Is older than 18 and is disabled, so long as the child became disabled prior to reaching the age of 22

Applying for Benefits

In order to apply for benefits, you must do so in person or via the phone. The only part of the application that can be completed online, via the SSA website, is the Child Disability Report. The actual SSI application must be completed with the assistance of an SSA employee either during an in-person appointment or a scheduled phone call. The documents needed to apply for benefits include the following:

  • The Social Security numbers of the parents
  • The birth certificate of the child
  • The Social Security number of the child
  • Evidence of disability of a parent from a doctor, if necessary
  • Death certificate of a parent, if the circumstances call for it
  • Other documents could be requested by the SSA

How Children Qualify for Benefits

There are three situations in which children can qualify for SSI benefits from the SSA: benefits paid to disabled children, Social Security dependents benefits and benefits for disabled young adults or adult children.

Benefits Paid to Disabled Children

Social Security Insurance benefits are available to disabled children who meet the requirements set forth by the SSA but who live in a family that does not have the income or resources necessary to provide care. A portion of the income from the parents is attributed to the child to determine if the child is eligible for the benefits.

Once the child reaches the age of 18, he or she must then apply for benefits as an adult, which means he or she will need to meet the SSA definition of disability as an adult. The income of the family no longer plays a role in the eligibility determination when the child reaches adulthood. If the patient still lives at home and also receives food from the family, the SSA might lower the disability payment amount.

Social Security Dependents Benefits

A child is eligible for Social Security disability benefits whether or not they are disabled if their stepparent, parent or adoptive parent is receiving benefits or if that person was eligible for benefits but has since died. When a child is collecting benefits from the SSA based on the record of the parents, this is what’s known as dependents benefits, or auxiliary benefits. If there is no living parent, it might be possible for a child to receive benefits from a grandparent or step grandparent.

When receiving dependents benefits, a child is eligible for 50 percent of the monthly benefit issued to the parent. The child is eligible to receive these benefits up to the age of 18. If they are enrolled full-time in high school, they can receive the benefits up to the age of 19. If the child marries before the age restriction, the benefits will cease to be paid.

Benefits for Disabled Adult Children or Young Adults

This category, which is often referred to as ‘adult child’ benefits, is viewed as an extension of the dependents benefits category. The extension is that the benefits can only be issued to a child who is disabled. The benefits from the SSA discussed in the dependents benefits category can be extended for the life of a child who is disabled from childhood or who suffers a disability prior to the age of 22.

The young adult must still meet the requirements set forth by the SSA for what a disability is in order to receive the benefits. This category of benefits is called child benefits because it is based on the earnings of the adult parent or adoptive parent of the child, not because the recipient is actually a child. Oftentimes, the adult does not start collecting the benefits until they reach retirement age, which is why some children are between the ages of 18 and 22 when they first receive benefits.

This category of benefits is often called the ‘adults disabled since childhood’ category by the SSA even though the disability can begin prior to the age of 22. If the child does not develop a disability until after the age of 22, he or she will not qualify for any of the child SSI benefits discussed here and will need to apply for benefits as an adult, leaving out the income of their parents when doing so.

Does Your Child Require Social Security Disability Benefits? Contact an Experienced Benefits Attorney

Is your child disabled? Does your child require Social Security disability benefits in order to receive proper care? If so, it is time for you to speak with an experienced disability benefits attorney about your situation. Call the office of The Dansby Law Firm, P.C. at 1-877-834-7001 to schedule a consultation with an attorney. Applying for benefits for a child can be confusing. An experienced attorney can help alleviate the situation and help you understand what is required in order for your child to qualify for SSI benefits from the SSA.

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