Social Security Disability for Children in 2020

dad pushing child in wheelchair

A child under age 18 who has a disability may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits under specific eligibility requirements. The social security disability for children rules are different from SSI eligibility requirements for adults, but they are strict and include both disability and financial criteria. In North Carolina, Disability Determination Services (DDS) in the state Department of Human Services administers Social Security disability programs, including SSI. The application process can be confusing and complicated.

If you live in northeastern North Carolina and need assistance with an initial application or an appeal from a denial, our Social Security disability lawyers at The Twiford Law Firm can help.

SSI Disability Eligibility Requirements for Children

A child who is blind or has a disability may be eligible for SSI benefits. Both qualifying criteria are defined by Social Security rules. There is no age requirement, other than that the child is younger than age 18. Eligibility may begin as early as the child’s birth date.

A child is disabled for SSI purposes if the child has a medically determinable mental or physical impairment that causes “marked and severe functional limitations.” The impairment must have lasted for at least 12 months, or be expected to last continuously for at least 12 months or be terminal. Examples of conditions that qualify include Down syndrome, deafness, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cancer, and symptomatic HIV. Other conditions also qualify, including multiple impairments that together cause the disability.

If you apply for SSI payments for your child due to disability, you will be asked to provide detailed information about your child’s medical condition, as well as details about how it affects the child’s ability to perform daily activities. You also grant permission for DDS to talk with professionals who have information about your child, such as teachers, doctors, and therapists.

A child is blind for SSI purposes if the child meets the same blindness requirements that apply to adults. A child who does not meet the Social Security blindness requirements may still qualify as disabled for SSI purposes.

SSI Financial Eligibility Requirements For Children

In addition to the impairment eligibility criteria, a child must meet financial requirements to be eligible for SSI. The child’s income limitation generally is adjusted every year and differs for a disabled and blind child. In 2020, a disabled child’s income cannot exceed $1,260 a month. A blind child’s income cannot exceed $2,110 a month.

In addition, SSI considers income and resources of family members living in the child’s household, such as a parent, stepparent, or adoptive parent. If the amount of child’s income and resources, the family members’ income and resources, or the total of both exceeds the allowable amounts, the application for SSI will be denied.

The process of considering a household member’s income and resources in determining a child’s SSI eligibility is referred to as “deeming,” because DDS deems the parent’s or other family member’s income and resources to be available to the child. Deeming is a complex calculation that includes some specific deductions and takes into account the number of other (ineligible) children in the household.

If you apply for SSI benefits for your child, you will be asked to provide records relating to the child’s and family members’ income and resources. That may include employment records, financial accounts, real estate interests, life insurance policies, and any assets that could be converted to cash (like a car).

Filing an SSI Application for Your Child

Many applications for SSI for a child with blindness or a disability are denied because of mistakes or omissions in the application or failure to provide sufficient information about the child’s disability or income and resources of the child and household members. Errors can cause considerable delays and problems in a process that is time-consuming and complex even without mistakes. The best way to ensure that your application is complete and correct is to get assistance from an experienced SSI attorney.

SSDI Benefits For Adults Who Became Disabled in Childhood

In addition to SSI for a child, Social Security provides Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to adults who became disabled before reaching age 22. The disability eligibility criteria are the same as for adults.

SSDI benefits include help with work expenses, rehabilitation, and training. They continue as long as the recipient is not engaged in substantial work. In 2020, “substantial work” equates to monthly earnings over $1,260 for non-blind recipients and $2,110 for blind recipients. The limitation amount is typically adjusted annually.

Like SSI, SSDI requires meticulous attention when filing an application. Assistance from a knowledgeable attorney is highly recommended when you begin the process or if you received a denial after submitting an application.

Talk With Our Northeastern North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers

Our attorneys at The Twiford Law Firm know the laws of social security disability for children and help clients with SSI and SSDI applications and can assist with an appeal from a denial of benefits. We provide personal care and attention to every client and every claim. Call us at 252-338-4151 (Elizabeth City) or 252-435-2811 (Moyock) or complete our online form to schedule a consultation.