Parents of children with disabilities often have financial struggles. Disabled children often require regular medical care, and many need special equipment. Some parents may be unable to work due to their caretaker responsibilities. Children of parents with limited financial means may qualify for Social Security Insurance (SSI) benefits if they meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disability for children. If you have questions about SSI benefits for children with disabilities or another Social Security disability matter, contact experienced Michigan Social Security disability lawyer Bruce L. Weider, PC at (734) 485-0535.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), children under the age of 18 may qualify for monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments if their medical condition (or a combination of multiple conditions) meets the SSA’s definition of disability. The income and resources of the child must also be below the SSA eligibility limits. When determining whether a child qualifies for SSI, the SSA considers the child’s own income and resources, along with the income and resources of all family members in the same household as the child.
Children with disabilities may receive SSI payments only if they meet the following requirements of the Social Security Administration:
- The child may not be working or earning over the minimum threshold, which is $1,470 per month in 2023. Children who are blind may not be working or earning over $2,460. This amount is typically updated each year.
- The child’s medical condition or combination of conditions must cause “marked and severe functional limitations,” meaning that the child’s activities are severely limited by their disability.
- The medical condition has been disabling or is expected to be disabling for at least one full year, or the condition is expected to be terminal.
If the child does not meet any of these three requirements, the Social Security Administration will deny their application for SSI benefits.
The Social Security Administration uses a process called “deeming” to add a portion of parents' income to the income of children applying for SSI benefits. The SSA deems the income of parents if the child is under 18 years old and either lives at home with a parent or is under the control of the parent, even if the child is away at school. Social Security also counts the income of stepparents if the stepparent lives with their spouse and the child. Deeming is a continuous process, as the SSA reevaluates the income of the household each month to determine if the child is still eligible for SSI benefits.
Deeming is a complex process that relies on a formula for deciding how much parental income should be included. First, the total of both parents’ gross income is calculated. Certain types of income are excluded from this total, such as income tax refunds, welfare payments, and food stamps. Next, the SSA makes certain types of deductions to arrive at the final total. These deductions may include:
- $457 per month for every non-disabled child in the household, first from unearned income until none is left, and then from earned income.
- $20 is deducted from the unearned income of the parents, or from their earned income if they do not have unearned income. Next, $65 is deducted from earned income and the remaining total is reduced by half. This figure is further reduced by the federal SSI benefit rate of $914 for individuals (if the child lives with one parent) or $1,371 (the rate for couples).
- When only one disabled child lives in the household, the SSA deems the remaining total of countable income to that child. If more than one disabled child is receiving SSI benefits, the total countable income is divided and deemed equally between the children.
You can learn more about countable income and benefits for children with disabilities by contacting Michigan Social Security disability lawyer Bruce L. Weider.
After evaluating parental income, the SSA turns to the child’s income. The parental income is considered part of the child’s unearned income during this process. If the child has no personal earned income, the process is simple: Take the deemed income, subtract a $20 allowance, and then reduce this from the standard SSI rate ($914 in non-supplementing states). The remaining amount is the child's monthly SSI benefit.
For households that receive child support payments for a child with a disability, Social Security counts these payments as unearned income for the child. However, only two-thirds of the total monthly amount is deemed countable income, and only payments that are actually received. If the parent assigned child support obligations misses payments, the child’s SSI benefit is not affected.
When applying for SSI payments for a child with a disability, the parents will need to provide the Social Security Administration with documentation for their child’s medical condition. Applicants should expect the following requests from the SSA:
- Proof of how the condition affects the child’s ability to perform daily tasks and activities.
- The SSA asks applicants to permit doctors, therapists, teachers, and other professionals to send information about the child’s condition to the SSA
- Medical and school records
The SSA sends all of this information to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in the state where the applicant lives. This information is then reviewed by doctors and other trained staff. The office may also request medical and school records, along with other necessary information to help them decide whether the child meets disability criteria. This state agency may also ask the child to undergo a medical examination or test, which is paid for by the SSA.
If your family needs to apply for SSI disability benefits for a child with a disability, an experienced Michigan disability lawyer Bruce L. Weider, PC, may be able to help. An attorney experienced in SSA procedures can assist clients in a number of ways, including securing benefits for children with disabilities. Schedule your free disability benefits consultation today by calling (734) 485-0535.