Applying for Social Security disability benefits for your child is a difficult, even harrowing process. However, the benefits can be invaluable. There are several Social Security disability programs available for US residents, but the appropriate one for a child is Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
You and your family are entitled to SSI benefits if your child has a condition that will prevent him or her from finding work in future, that is terminal, or that severely affects your child’s ability to lead a normal life. Financial assistance from the US government can be used to help pay medical bills, seek assistance from a caregiver, or just make ends meet. It’s an important safety net provided by the government to help families weather the financial problems brought on by any disability, but especially one suffered by a child.
The Social Security Administration determines eligibility for benefits according to both income and medical criteria. To the SSA, a child is a person under 18 years old.
Income Requirements for SSI
When the Social Security Administration reviews your child’s SSI application, they look at both your child’s income, if any, and your income as their parent.
The SSA makes a calculation called “deeming” to decide how much of your income they consider to belong to your child. If it is above certain limits, depending on where you live, then your application may be denied. Factors like other children in the house, and if anyone else in the house is already receiving SSI benefits, are also considered.
The SSA provides a chart at to help you find out if your income falls within the guidelines for SSI benefits.
Medical Blue Book Requirements for SSI
In order for Children to be eligible for disability benefits, they must be diagnosed a medical condition that prevents them from leading a typical life and preforming daily activities. The Social Security Administration maintains a list of all medical conditions that can qualify for benefits. This list is called the Blue Book.
Your child’s medical condition also has to meet specific Blue Book criteria. You can do this by finding your child’s disability in the Blue Book and determining whether your child’s symptoms or test results match the Blue Book’s qualifications. For example, a child with Trisomy 21 Down syndrome will always medically qualify for SSI benefits. A child with lymphoma, however, will need to show that his or her cancer returned despite treatment or that a bone marrow transplant was required.
In cases where the medical condition does not meet the strict criteria of the Blue Book, you can also work with your child’s doctor to fill out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. This is a document that lets your doctor explain your child’s medical ailments in their own words. Even if the illness doesn’t fit within the Blue Book guidelines, it can still represent a serious disability that should qualify your child for benefits.
The Blue Book can’t account for every possibility, so the Social Security Administration can consider edge cases and exceptions using a RFC.
Applying for SSI for Your Child in Philadelphia
If you would like to apply online for disability benefits for your child, you can do so online on the SSA’s web site.
The application can be confusing and difficult to fill out, though, and local Social Security offices are happy to assist. You can discuss your case with the people there, and get help in applying. Here in the City of Philadelphia, there are a number of Social Security offices. You can also call the SSA during regular business hours at (800) 772-1213.
3336 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19145 4240 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 300 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19123 3400 Aramingo Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19134
Navigating the world of disability benefits is challenging, but can make all the difference in a difficult time for your family. With carefully prepared medical records, you should hopefully hear back from the SSA in just a couple of months.
This article was written by the Social Security Disability Help organization.
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