Benefits For Children With Disabilities

A drawing of 2 children in wheelchair and one standing

This page will help you decide if you, your child, or a child you know, might be eligible for SSI or Social Security. If you have any questions or issues about SSI or Social Security benefits, then you would need to contact your local Social Security office.


SSI payments for children with disabilities

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) makes monthly payments to people with low income and limited resources who are 65 or older, or blind, or disabled. Your child, if younger than age 18, can qualify if he or she has a physical or mental condition, or combination of conditions, that meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. The amount of the SSI payment is different from state to state because some states add to the SSI payment. Your local Social Security office can tell you more about your state’s total SSI payment.


SSI rules about income and resources

They consider your child’s income and resources when deciding if your child is eligible for SSI. They also consider the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household. These rules apply if your child lives at home. They also apply if he or she is away at school but returns home from time to time and is subject to your control. If your child’s income and resources, or the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household, are more than the amount allowed, they will deny the child’s application for SSI payments. They limit the monthly SSI payment to $30 when a child is in a medical facility, and health insurance pays for his or her care.


SSI rules about disability

Your child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and, therefore, eligible for SSI:



Providing information about your child’s condition

When you apply for SSI payments for your child based on a disability, they will ask you for detailed information about the child’s medical condition and about how it affects his or her ability to perform daily activities. They also will ask you to give permission to the doctors, teachers, therapists, and other professionals who have information about your child’s condition to send the information to us. If you have any of your child’s medical or school records, please bring them with you. This will help speed up the decision-making process.


What happens next?

They send all of the information you give us to the Disability Determination Services office in your state. Doctors and other trained staff in that state agency will review the information, and will request your child’s medical and school records, and any other information needed to decide if your child meets our criteria for disability. If the state agency can’t make a disability determination using only the medical information, school records, and other facts they have, they may ask you to take your child for a medical examination or test. They will pay for the exam or test.


They may make immediate SSI payments to your child

The state agency may take three to five months to decide if your child meets their criteria for disability. For some medical conditions, however, they make SSI payments right away, and for up to six months, while the state agency decides if your child has a qualifying disability. Following are some of the conditions that may qualify:


If your child has one of the qualifying conditions, he or she will get SSI payments right away. If the state agency ultimately decides that your child’s disability is not severe enough for SSI, you won’t have to pay back the SSI payments that your child got.


SSI disability reviews

After your child starts receiving SSI, the law requires that they review your child’s medical condition from time to time to verify that his or her disability still meets their criteria. they must do this review:



They may perform a disability review even if your child’s condition isn’t expected to improve. When they do a review, you must present evidence that your child’s disability still severely limits his or her daily activities and that your child has been receiving treatment that’s considered medically necessary for his or her medical condition.


What happens when your child turns age 18

In the SSI program, a child becomes an adult at age 18, and they use different medical and nonmedical rules when deciding if an adult can get SSI disability payments. For example, they don’t count the income and resources of family members, except for a spouse, when deciding whether an adult meets the financial limits for SSI. They count only the adult’s and spouse’s income and resources. They also use the disability rules for adults when deciding whether an adult is disabled.



SSDI benefits for adults disabled since childhood

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they became 22-years-old. They consider this SSDI benefit as a “child’s” benefit because it’s paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record. For a disabled adult to become entitled to this “child” benefit, one of his or her parents:



These benefits also are payable to an adult if he or she is disabled at age 18, and if they received dependents benefits on a parent’s Social Security earnings record prior to age 18. Children who were receiving benefits as a minor child on a parent’s Social Security record may be eligible to continue receiving benefits on that parent’s record upon reaching age 18 if he or she is disabled. They make the disability determination using the disability rules for adults.

SSDI disabled adult “child” benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. Marriage of the disabled adult “child” may affect eligibility for his benefit. Your child doesn’t need to have worked to get these benefits.


How they determine if your child is disabled and entitled to SSDI

If your child is age 18 or older, they will evaluate his or her disability in the same way they would determine disability for any adult. They send the application to the Disability Determination Services in your state that makes the disability determination for us.


Applying for SSI payments or SSDI benefits and how you can help

You can apply for SSI payments or SSDI benefits for your child by calling Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or use our Social Security office locator. If you are applying for SSI payments for your child, you should have his or her Social Security number and birth certificate with you. If you are applying for SSDI benefits for your child based on your own earnings record, please have your own Social Security number with you, or the Social Security number of the retired, disabled, or deceased parent on whose record the SSDI claim is being filed, in addition to the child’s Social Security number and birth certificate. You can help us make a determination by:



If your child is younger than age 18 and applying for SSI, you must provide records that show your income and resources, as well as those of your child. They also will ask you to describe how your child’s disability affects his or her ability to perform daily activities. In addition, they will ask for the names of teachers, day care providers, and family members who can provide information about how your child functions. If you have school records, you should bring them to the interview.

In many communities, special arrangements have been made with medical providers, social service agencies, and schools to help us get the evidence they need to process your child’s claim. Your cooperation in getting records and other information, however, will help us finish their job more quickly.


Employment support programs for young people with disabilities

They have many ways to encourage young people who are receiving SSI payments or SSDI benefits and who want to go to work.

Under SSI:

Under SSDI:


Medicaid and Medicare

Medicaid is a health care program for people with low incomes and limited resources. In most states, children who get SSI payments qualify for Medicaid. In many states, Medicaid comes automatically with SSI eligibility. In other states, you must sign up for it. And some children can get Medicaid coverage even if they don’t qualify for SSI. Check with your local Social Security office, your state Medicaid agency, or your state or county social services office for more information.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older, and for people who have been getting Social Security disability benefits for at least two years.

There are two exceptions to this rule. Your disabled adult child can get Medicare immediately if he or she:



Children’s Health Insurance Program

The Children’s Health Insurance Program enables states to provide health insurance to children from working families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private health insurance. The program provides coverage for prescription drugs, vision, hearing, and mental health services, and is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Your state Medicaid agency can provide more information about this program.


Other health care services

When your child gets SSI, They will refer you to places where you can get health care services for your child. These services are under the Children with Special Health Care Needs provision of the Social Security Act. State health agencies usually manage these programs.

States call these services by many different names, including Children’s Special Health Services, Children’s Medical Services, and Handicapped Children’s Program. Most programs provide services through clinics, private offices, hospital-based outpatient and inpatient treatment centers, or community agencies.

Even if your child doesn’t get SSI, one of these programs may be able to help you. Local health departments, social service offices, or hospitals should be able to help you contact your local Children with Special Health Care Needs program.