Childhood Disability Claims: What You Should Know

Filing a child’s disability claim looks very similar to filing a claim for an adult, but there are a few nuances that one should understand.  Children under the age of 18 qualify for Social Security benefits under the SSI program.  A child can qualify if they have a medical condition or combination of conditions that meet the definition of disability.  SSI programs for disability are dependent on meeting an income requirement, as well as, meeting the definition of disability.

Disability requirements are sightly different for children than adults (see  In general, though, the requirements usually include a “marked” or “extreme” limitation when compared to a child’s peers.  Because of the stringent requirements, conditions like ADHD, speech impediments, and dyslexia, usually are not successful in childhood applications.  However, like with adult applications, a combinations of impairments may allow for a finding of disability if none of the impairments alone rise to the level of a listing.

The other key part of a childhood disability claim is the income requirement.  For children, their own resources, as well as the resources of the parent/guardian will count toward this requirement.  In general, the income requirement for children on disability is the same as for adults on disability, with the same earned income and hours worked counting for eligibility.  According to the SSA, deeming applies if the parent(s) has income and/or resources and the child is under age 18; and lives at home with his or her parent(s),or adoptive parent(s); or lives away at school, but comes home on some weekends, holidays, or school vacations and is subject to parental control.[1] “If a child under age 18 lives with one parent, $2,000 of the parent’s total countable resources does not count.  If the child lives with 2 parents, $3,000 does not count.”[2]  The number of children in the household can also affect the resources and income deemed toward the disabled child (see for the deeming chart).

Last, if your child does qualify for disability benefits, be aware that they will be reviewed for continuing eligibility approximately every 3 years, and when they turn 18.

If you believe that your child may qualify for SSI disability benefits, and would like some help navigating the application process, please contact O’Brien and Feiler for assistance.