By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides cash payments to children with disabilities whose families have limited income and resources. A child must meet the following medical requirements to be considered disabled under Social Security rules:
- The child must have a medical condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must seriously limit the child’s activities.
- The child’s disabling condition(s) must last for at least 12 months, or the condition(s) must be expected to end in death.
We also help children through our Compassionate Allowances program. Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s standard for disability benefits. The list can be found at www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm. Compassionate Allowances help us reduce waiting time to reach a disability determination for children with the most serious disabilities. Thousands of children receive benefits because they have a condition on this list, but children with conditions not on this list can still qualify for SSI.
A child must meet additional eligibility requirements for low income and limited resources to qualify for SSI. To qualify, a child:
- Who is blind must not be working or earning more than $2,190 a month in 2021.
- Who is not blind, must not be working or earning more than $1,310 a month in 2021.
Earnings amounts usually change every year. Some older teenagers may have part-time jobs or be involved in work programs, which Social Security will count for financial eligibility.
In addition, if an unmarried child under age 18 is living at home, Social Security may consider some of the parents’ income as the child’s income. We make allowances for the parents and their other children living in the home when we consider the parents’ income. You can read more about children’s benefits in our publication, Benefits for Children with Disabilities at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf.
If you are a parent or know a parent, guardian, caregiver, or representative of a child you think may be eligible, visit our Disability Benefits-Apply for a Child (Under Age 18) at www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/apply-child.html to learn more and begin an application.
Vonda Van Til 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.