| Skip to content
Social Security Online
Benefits For Children With DisabilitiesSSA Publication No. 05-10026, January 2008, ICN 455360 [View .pdf] (En Español)
Our website is a valuable resource for information about all of Social Security’s programs. There are a number of things you can do online.
In addition to using our website, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day. (You can use our automated response system to tell us a new address or request a replacement Medicare card.) If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.
We treat all calls confidentially. We also want to make sure you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some telephone calls.
This booklet is for the parents, caregivers or representatives of children under age 18 who have disabilities that might make them eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. It is also for adults who became disabled in childhood and who might be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. (We call this SSDI benefit a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.)
This booklet will help you decide if your child, or a child you know, might be eligible for Social Security or SSI.
SSI makes monthly payments to people with low income and limited resources who are 65 or older, or blind or disabled. Your child under age 18 can qualify if he or she meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. The amount of the SSI payment is different from one state to another because some states add to the SSI payment. Your local Social Security office can tell you more about your state’s total SSI payment.
SSI rules about income and resources
When we decide if your child can get SSI, we consider your child’s income and resources. We also consider the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household. These rules apply if your child lives at home. They also apply if he or she is away at school but returns home from time to time and is subject to your control.
If your child’s income and resources, or the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household, are more than the amount allowed, we will deny the child’s application for SSI payments.
We limit the monthly SSI payment to $30 when a
child is in
SSI rules about disability
Your child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for SSI:
If your child’s condition(s) results in “marked and severe functional limitations” for at least 12 continuous months, we will find that your child is disabled. But if it does not result in those limitations, or does not last for at least 12 months, we will find that your child is not disabled.
Providing information about your child’s condition
When you apply for benefits for your child, we will ask you for detailed information about the child’s medical condition and how it affects his or her ability to function on a daily basis. We also will ask you to give permission for the doctors, teachers, therapists and other professionals who have information about your child’s condition to send the information to us.
If you have any of your child’s medical or school records, please bring them with you. This will help speed up the decision on your application.
What happens next?
We send all of the information you give us to the Disability Determination Services in your state. Doctors and other trained staff in that state agency will review the information, and will request your child’s medical and school records, and any other information needed to decide if your child is disabled.
If the state agency cannot make a disability decision using only the medical information, school records and other facts they have, they may ask you to take your child for a medical examination or test. We will pay for the exam or test.
We may make immediate SSI payments to your child
It can take three to five months for the state agency to decide if your child is disabled. However, we consider certain medical conditions so limiting that we expect any one of them to disable a child. In these cases, we make SSI payments right away and for up to six months while the state agency decides if your child is disabled.
Following are some of those conditions:
If your child has one of the limiting conditions that is expected to disable a child, he or she will get SSI payments right away. However, the state agency may finally decide that your child’s disability is not severe enough for SSI. If that happens, you will not have to pay back the SSI payments that your child got.
SSI disability reviews
Once your child starts receiving SSI, the law requires that we review your child’s medical condition from time to time to verify that he or she is still disabled. This review must be done:
We may perform a disability review even if your child’s condition is not expected to improve. When we do a review, you must present evidence that your child is and has been receiving treatment that is considered medically necessary for your child’s medical condition.
What happens when your child turns age 18
For disability purposes in the SSI program, a child becomes an adult at age 18, and we use different medical and nonmedical rules when deciding if an adult can get SSI disability payments. For example, we do not count the income and resources of family members when deciding whether an adult meets the financial limits for SSI. We count only the adult’s income and resources. We also use the disability rules for adults when deciding whether an adult is disabled.
For more information, ask for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (Publication No. 05-11000).
The SSDI program pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they became 22 years old. We consider this SSDI benefit as a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.
For a disabled adult to become entitled to this “child” benefit, one of his or her parents:
These benefits also are payable to an adult who received dependents benefits on a parent’s Social Security earnings record prior to age 18, if he or she is disabled at age 18. We make the disability decision using the disability rules for adults.
SSDI disabled adult “child” benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. Your child does not need to have worked to get these benefits.
How we decide if your “child” is disabled for SSDI benefits
If your child is age 18 or older, we will evaluate his or her disability the same way we would evaluate the disability for any adult. We send the application to the Disability Determination Services in your state that completes the disability decision for us. For detailed information about how we evaluate disability for adults, ask for Disability Benefits (Publication No. 05-10029).
You can apply for Social Security or SSI payments
for your child by calling Social Security toll-free at
You can help us make a decision by:
NOTE: You do not need to request information from your child’s doctors. We will contact them directly for any reports or information that we need to make a decision about your child’s disability.
If your child is younger than age 18 and applying for SSI, you will need to provide records that show your income and resources, as well as those of your child. We also will ask you to describe how your child’s disability affects his or her ability to function on a day-to-day basis. In addition, we will ask for the names of teachers, day care providers and family members who can provide information about how your child functions. If you have any school records, you should bring them to the interview.
In many communities, special arrangements have been made with medical providers, social service agencies and schools to help us get the evidence we need to process your child’s claim. However, your cooperation in getting records and other information will help us finish our job more quickly.
We have many ways to encourage young people who are receiving SSI payments or SSDI benefits and who want to go to work.
You can get more information about these programs at www.socialsecurity.gov or by calling our toll-free 800 number.
Medicaid is a health care program for people with low incomes and limited resources. In most states, children who get SSI payments qualify for Medicaid. In many states, Medicaid comes automatically with SSI eligibility. In other states, you must sign up for it. And some children can get Medicaid coverage even if they do not qualify for SSI. Check with your local Social Security office, your state Medicaid agency, or your state or county social services office for more information.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older and for people who have been getting Social Security disability benefits for at least two years.
There are two exceptions to this rule. Your child can get Medicare if he or
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program enables states
to provide health insurance to children from working families with incomes too high to qualify
for Medicaid, but too low to afford private health insurance. The program provides coverage for prescription drugs, vision, hearing and mental health services and is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Your state Medicaid agency can provide more information about this program, or you can get more information at www.cms.hhs.gov/home/schip.asp on the Internet or by calling
When your child gets SSI, we will refer you to places where you can get health care services for your child. These services are under the Children with Special Health Care Needs provision of the Social Security Act. These programs are usually managed by state health agencies.
States call these services by many different names, including Children’s Special Health Services, Children’s Medical Services and Handicapped Children’s Program. Most Children with Special Health Care Needs programs help provide services through clinics, private offices, hospital-based outpatient and inpatient treatment centers, or community agencies.
Even if your child does not get SSI, one of these programs may be able to help you. Local health departments, social service offices, or hospitals should be able to help you contact your local Children with Special Health Care Needs program.