Parents in Pennsylvania and elsewhere often face the normal ups and downs with raising a child. While some parents might find it more difficult to meet the needs and requirements of their children, parents raising a child with disabilities often face additional emotional, mental and financial challenges. In these circumstances, parents could consider how Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, could assist them with the care and well-being of their child with a disability.
SSI for children works similar to the SSI disability program for adults; there are some differences with definitions and eligibility, however. Whether a child was born with a disability or acquired a disability due to an injury or illness during childhood, if the child is neither married nor the head of a household, they qualify for SSI if they are under the age of 18 or are under the age of 22 and are a student that regularly attends school.
In order for a child to be eligible for SSI disability benefits, he or she must be either blind or otherwise disabled. The Social Security Administration allows for children to become eligible as early as the date of their birth as there is no minimum age requirement.
The criterion for being disabled requires that the child have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments. These impairments must result in marked or severe functional limitations and they must have lasted for 12 months or be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or expect to result in the death of the child. With regards to blindness, the child must meet the same definition required for adults; however, there are no duration requirements for SSI blindness benefits.
Once a child attains the age of majority, which is either 18 or 22, the SSA will evaluate their impairment based on the definitions for adults. If the young adult is found to meet the definition for disabilities for adults, he or she could receive SSI disability benefits for adults.
No matter the age of the child or the type of impairment, parents should understand that benefits may be available. SSI disability benefits could be very helpful for some children living with disabilities, therefore, it is important to understand the process to obtain these benefits.
Source: Social Security Administration, “Supplemental Security Income (SSI) For Children,” accessed Aug. 21, 2016