November 5th, 2007
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As I continue to learn more about the world of developmental disabilities, through my Partners in Policymaking class, I am starting to understand that there are resources (albeit limited) for some of our special kids.

This link gives you some straight-forward information about applying for Social Security benefits (SSI or SSDI) for your child with disabilities.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is something a child from birth to 18 can qualify for if they have a disability that meets the SSA’s definition of disabled AND their parents income and resources are within the allowable limits.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program for adult children (18 and over) who are classified disabled and they have been disabled since before age 22. These benefits are only given to those whose parents are retired (and eligible for social security) or disabled or deceased.


Children with mental impairments (either intellectual impairments or mental illness) have to meet additional criteria to be deemed disabled. They have to provide information about how severe their impairments are and how they impact their daily life and prevent functioning. SSA evaluators will need all your child’s medical information, as well as school records. What they are looking for is evidence that your child’s impairments are truly disabling and are interfering with your child’s ability in one of four areas:
• Cognitive/communication function
• Social function
• Personal care function
• Concentration/persistence/pace

Once a child turns 18, the parents’ income and resources are no longer a factor in whether a he/she qualifies for SSI. So, while many children can not receive benefits as a minor, they can once they turn 18, unless they are able to earn a certain amount of income through working.

Along with SSI benefits come medical benefits through Medicaid as well. State agencies are the ones who determine a child’s eligibility for SSI.

Medical Categories for Children’s Disabilities – links to SSA definitions.

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2 Responses to “Receiving Social Security Benefits for Disabled Children”

  1. John says:

    There is more! If your are collecting social security as a parent, your disabled adult child can either get SSI or SSD, benefits determined from your SS earnings. It does not reduce your SS income. The advantage to SSD, is that the child gets full medicare after you have reached 64, much better than medicade, also, SSD does not stop for in-patient care, while SSI does.

    If you are getting social security and have minor children, you are entitled to payments for them from your account, again, no reduction to your benefits. All of this probably doesn’t affect too many parents, but there are a few of us old geezers out there. For those of us that paid the max each year into the system, it is nice to get something back. John

  2. Julie says:

    Thanks John! I agree that it’s nice to get something back.

    We’re feeling pretty old around here…but aren’t quite there yet.

    Thanks for the info…I’m just learning.

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