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Living the Chai Life

Strategies for Coping with the Social and Emotional Challenges of Pediatric Illness

Does Your Child Qualify for SSI Benefits?

 

Does Your Child Qualify for SSI Benefits?

We welcome this contribution from Deanna Power of Social Security Disability Help. Please note that we cannot answer any questions about specific situations. Please address all questions about eligibility or how to apply to help@disability-benefits-help.org.

It is almost a law of nature that a child’s illness impacts a family’s income. Medical bills, time off from work, extra housekeeping or childcare needs add up quickly. SSI (Supplemental Security Income), a program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides some relief for families through monthly financial assistance to parents of children with life-threatening or severe chronic illnesses.

SSI offers financial relief to families living with serious pediatric illness.
SSI offers financial relief to families living with serious pediatric illness.

Do you qualify?

For your child to qualify for disability benefits, he or she will need to not only be disabled, but your family will need to meet income level thresholds. If your household income is too high, your child will be ineligible for SSI benefits.

The process of determining if your child meets the financial qualification for SSI is referred to by the SSA as “deeming.”  The SSA will consider some of your income and resources when determining if your child meets the financial requirements to receive SSDI benefits, but not everything. If you have other children or a spouse, your income threshold will be higher.

What are the medical requirements for SSDI for Children?

The SSA’s definition of “disability” for children states that children must have a mental or physical condition that seriously limits their activities, has lasted or will last for at least 12 months, or is expected to significantly shorten the child’s lifespan so that s/he will not survive past childhood.  In order to determine if the mental or physical condition meets the requirements of a disability, the SSA uses a list of impairments commonly referred to as the Blue Book.

The “Blue Book” lists the medical criteria for evaluating a mental or physical impairment to determine if the severity is a disability for the child.  In addition to the Blue Book, the SSA maintains a Compassionate Allowance list with conditions that are considered so severe they almost always meet the medical requirements for a disability. Compassionate Allowances are also approved much quicker than typical applications, so your child could receive benefits much faster.

Evidence used to prove that your child meets the criteria in the Blue Book includes medical reports, medical tests, information from the child’s school, reports by caregivers or social workers, consultative examinations ordered by the SSA, and information provided by parents or other sources about the child’s daily activities, symptoms, and functional limitations.

 Examples of life-threatening childhood illnesses in the SSA’s Blue Book.

Many of the illnesses contained in the Blue Book can be considered life threatening.  Each condition has specific criteria that must be met in order to consider the condition a disability.

Childhood cancers: Cancer is addressed in Sections 113.00 (solid tumors) and 107.00 (hematological disorders).

Heart transplants: If your child has a serious heart condition and requires a heart transplant, the SSA will consider your child medically disabled for at least 12 months following the procedure. After 12 months, the SSA will reevaluate your child to determine if he or she is still medically eligible for benefits.

Low birth weight: If your child is born prematurely, he or she could receive benefits. The SSA has a chart depicting how much your child must way at his or her time of birth to qualify.

Additional categories include musculoskeletal system disorders; special senses and speech; and disorders involving the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, genitourinary, dermatology, endocrine, neurological, and immune system disorders. Information about congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems and mental disorders are also available.

 How do I apply for SSI for my child?

The SSA’s website provides detailed steps for how to apply for SSI for your child.  You can complete the Child Disability Report online; however, to complete an SSI application for your child, you must schedule an appointment with your local SSA office by calling 1-800-772-1213.

 

Editor’s Note: Social Security Disability Help(DisabilityBenefitsCenter.org) is an advertising service paid for by the lawyers and advocates whose names are provided in response to user requests (the free disability evaluation tool on the site).

 

 

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