A boy looks over his father's shoulder as his father carries him.

Social Security’s Gift to Its Children

By Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

During the holiday season, most of us, regardless of religion or beliefs, focus on the children we love. And we at Social Security know a thing or two about helping children.

Typically, the hospital will ask new mothers if they want to apply for a Social Security number for their newborn. This is the easiest and fastest way to apply. The Social Security card typically arrives about a week to ten days after that little bundle of joy! You can learn about Social Security numbers for children by reading our publication, Social Security Numbers for Children, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

A child needs a Social Security number if he or she is going to have a bank account, own savings bonds, if the child will have medical coverage, or if the child will receive government services. You’ll also need a Social Security number for a child to claim him or her on your tax returns.

If you wait to apply, you will have to visit a Social Security office and you’ll need to:

  • Complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
  • Show us original documents proving your child’s U.S. citizenship, age, and identity; and
  • Show us documents proving your identity.

A child age 12 or older requesting an original Social Security number must appear in person for the interview, even though a parent or guardian will sign the application on the child’s behalf.

Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. Social Security is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSI:

  • The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions. The child’s condition(s) must severely limit your child’s activities;
  • The child’s condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death; and
  • The child must not be working and earning more than the Substantial Gainful Activity limit ($1,180 a month in 2018).

Family resources are also considered. If the parents of the child or children have more resources than are allowed, then the child or children will not qualify for SSI.

Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids to learn more about all we do to care for children. Social Security is with you and your children through your life’s journey, securing today and tomorrow.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov 

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