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
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.