Many people in Houston assume without checking that Social Security Disability benefits are available only to adults. This assumption is incorrect, and it has prevented many parents from obtaining disability benefits for children who suffer from a disabling illness or injury. A knowledge of the basic rules of SSDI eligibility for children may help parents who are raising a seriously injured or ill child.
Unlike adults, children who are seeking Social Security Disability benefits must pass two tests: an income test and a disability test. Children must first demonstrate that they are eligible for Supplement Security Income, a program administered by the Social Security Administration. The SSA will review the child’s income (likely to be negligible) and household income. A certain amount of household income will be imputed to the child. If the child’s income is below a certain level, he or she can receive disability benefits if they are disabled.
The disability test for children is similar to the disability test for adults. The child must not be working and earning more than a certain amount per month. The child must be suffering from an injury or illness that causes “marked and severe functional limitations.” Finally, the condition must be permanent, i.e., expected to continue for a period of 12 months or to result in the child’s death. Some especially severe conditions, such as HIV, cerebral palsy or total deafness or blindness, the SSA may make payments immediately and for the time that the application is being considered.
An application for SSI/SSDI benefits for a minor child must be made by the child’s parent or legal guardian. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about the SSDI application process may be able to offer significant assistance and help with an appeal if the initial application is denied.