Social Security Disability Benefits for Children

Caring for a disabled child can be expensive and can create a financial hardship for the family. Many experts have estimated that it can cost millions of dollars to care for a disabled child over his or her lifetime. Fortunately for many parents and caregivers, there are benefits available for disabled children.

The Social Security Administration provides Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for children under the age of 18 who have disabilities. A child can be eligible for payments if he or she meets the definition of disability created by the Social Security Administration and if his or her income is within the eligibility limits. According to the Social Security Administration’s website, the following disability requirements must be met for your child to receive Supplemental Security Income payments:

• The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit your child’s activities.

• The child’s condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 12 months; or must be expected to result in death.

If your child has a condition that causes “marked and severe functional limitations” for at least 12 continuous months, your child will be found to be disabled. Your child’s income and resources, as well as the income and resources of the family members living in the same household, will also be considered when determining eligibility. This rule applies if your child is living at home or goes away to school, but returns home often. To receive Supplemental Security Income payments, your child must not be working and earning more than $940 a month in 2008 (this amount changes every year).

As a parent or caregiver, you will be asked to provide information about your child’s medical condition and how it affects his or her life. You will also be asked to allow information to be obtained from your child’s doctors, teachers, therapists and other professionals that will be used when determining eligibility.

The application and supporting information is sent to the Florida Disability Determination Services, where the review will take place.Additional information may be requested at this stage in the process.It can take three to five months for the agency to decide if your child is disabled and therefore eligible for payments.There are some exceptions though. If your child has a medical condition that is considered extremely limiting and usually leads to disability, your child may be able to receive immediate payments.Some of the qualifying medical conditions include:

• HIV
• Complete blindness
• Total deafness
• Cerebral palsy
• Down syndrome
• Muscular dystrophy
• Severe mental retardation (children ages 7 or older)
• Birth weight below 2 pounds, 10 ounces

Once your child starts to receive Supplemental Security Income payments, periodic reviews will be conducted to ensure that your child still qualifies.The reviews will take place every three years for children under the age of 18 who have a condition that is expected to improve and at age 1 for babies who qualified because of low birth weight.

The process for applying for payments can be complicated and it is not uncommon for the application to be denied. If that happens, contact an experienced Florida Social Security disability attorney who can help you.Contact David Benenfeld today at (866) 943-5766 if your child has been denied Supplemental Security Income payments.