How to find out if your child or children qualify for Social Security Supplemental Income (“SSI”)
This blog is for the parents, caregivers or representatives of children younger than age 18 that have disabilities which might make them eligible for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) payments. If you are older than age 18 and are seeking SSI, please click here for more information.
SSI distributes monthly payments to people with low income and limited resources who are 65 years of age or older, blind, or disabled. Your child may qualify if he or she meets the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) definition of disability for children.
When the SSA decides if your child can get SSI, they consider your child’s income and resources. In making those determinations, the SSA also includes the income and resources of family members living with the child. If the income and resources attributed to your child are more than the amount allowed, the SSA will deny your child’s application for SSI payments. Typically, the income limitation is set less than the SSI benefit amount, which was $674 in 2011. The disabled person’s countable assets must be less than $2,000 to qualify for SSI. The SSA gives a more detailed explanation of income and resource limitations here.
Is my child disabled?
In order to qualify for children’s disability benefits, Social Security requires that your child either:
- Meet one of the Listing of Impairments or
- Have a physical or mental condition (or a combination of conditions) that results in severe functional limitations.
Listing of Impairments
In order for your child to meet a listing, your child must meet all of the requirements of a single impairment. The listings are as follows:
- Growth impairment – covers children who don’t grow properly
- Musculoskeletal – covers back, joint and limb problems
- Special Senses and Speech – covers visual and hearing problems
- Respiratory System – covers breathing problems
- Cardiovascular system – covers heart problems and blood pressure problems
- Digestive system – covers problems digesting food, liver disease and bowel disease
- Genito-urinary system – covers kidney or liver disease
- Hematological Disorders– covers anemias (including sickle cell) and blood clotting diseases
- Skin Disorders – covers chronic infections of the skin and burns.
- Endocrine Disorders – includes thyroid, pituitary and other glandular diseases
- Multiple body systems – includes Down’s Syndrome and other genetic diseases, miscellaneous problems that cause problems functioning
- Neurological – includes epilepsy, cerebral palsy, brain tumors, seizure disorders, other neurological conditions
- Mental disorders – includes a range of mental health problems
- Neoplastic disorders – covers cancer and tumors
- Immune system disorders – covers lupus, HIV/AIDS, connective tissue disorders and other immune system problems
Most case; however, are won based on using a functional equivalence analysis. When making this analysis, your ALJ will consider six domains.
- Acquiring and using information.
- Attending and completing tasks.
- Interacting and relating with others.
- Moving about and manipulating objects.
- Caring for yourself.
- Health and physical well-being.
To win a child’s Social Security disability case for functional equivalence, you need to have either
a) an extreme limitation in one domain; or
b) a marked limitation in two domains.
What constitutes a marked or an extreme limitation; however, can be hard to determine. The SSA has put out a fairly lengthy document that discusses the functional equivalence analysis in depth. That document can be found here. In short, the SSA will find that your child has an “extreme” limitation in a domain when your child’s impairment(s) interferes very seriously with his or her ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. And the SSA will find that your child has a “marked” limitation in a domain when your child’s impairment(s) interferes seriously with his or her ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities.
There is no need to do this alone. We can help you!
Keep in mind, there is a lot of room for argument in functional limitation cases. Hearings often go back and forth on the issue of whether limitations are less than marked, marked, or extreme. Our attorneys at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin have handled tens of thousands of social security disability hearings and would be happy to further explain any questions you may have about your child’s eligibility for SSI. Just call Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin at 1-800-618-4878 for a Free Consultation.