Child’s Supplemental Security Income A Brief Overview
Mar 04, 2014 06:42AM
By Amy Bellhorn, Esq.
What are Child’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
SSI benefits are available to children under the age of 18 who have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and is expected to last or has lasted at least 12 months or more, or will result in death.
SSI serves as a critical lifeline for nearly 1.3 million children and youth with severe physical and mental impairments in low income households. The families face financial and other hardship when their child has a disability. SSI provides modest income support to partially offset the high cost of raising a child with a severe disability, and hopefully will provide the family with some assistance in taking care of the child’s needs and to offset medical costs.
How is the non-medical eligibility portion determined on Child’s SSI cases?
In these types of cases, the income of the parents who reside with the child is deemed to be available to the child. Generally, if the child’s parents are among the working poor, the child will be able to obtain benefits. However, no matter how disabled the child, if the parents may be described as being among the middle class, he or she will receive little or no benefits.
Does a Child’s SSI claimant have to meet the same criteria as an Adult SSI and Social Security Disability (SSD) case?
No, it is a bit different, and the standard for childhood disability was heightened considerably as part of “welfare reform” in 1996. It is very important to receive medical treatment for all the child’s health conditions (same as an adult SSI and SSD case). To qualify for SSI, a child must have a medically determinable impairment resulting in “marked and severe” functional limitations. Yet, the domains of functioning are extremely important to try to prove that the child functionally equals a Listing, especially if the child’s physical or mental impairment does not meet or medically equal a Listing. As a result, it is very important to have all school records and medical statements from treating physicians and specialists to prove the child has an extreme limitation in one domain of functioning or two marked limitations in the domains of functioning. Under this definition of childhood disability, the Social Security Administration consistently denied the majority of child applicants as shown in a GAO study from 2000-2011 (see GAO report, Better Management Oversight Needed for Children’s Benefits, GAO-12-497, June 26, 2012, available at gao.gov/products/GAO-12-497).
What has to be proven for a child to meet a Listing in the federal regulations to be found disabled?
A child must prove that he or she meets a Listing (SocialSecurity.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/ChildhoodListings.htm) or medically equals or functionally equals a Listing. A child claimant can “functionally” equal a Listing if they have marked limitations in two domains of functioning or one extreme limitation in a domain of functioning. There are six domains of functioning in total: Acquiring and Using Information; Attending and Completing Tasks; Interacting and Relating with Others; Moving About and Manipulating Objects; Caring for Self; Health and Physical Well Being.
For those children approved for SSI, what types of health conditions are they generally approved for?
Mental impairments are the leading cause, and approximately 65 percent of all cases were approved overall from 2000-2011. Yet, those that were approved had multiple impairments. For example, 74 percent of children with ADHD found eligible for SSI had at least one other impairment, i.e. oppositional defiant disorder or a physical health condition (see GAO report, Better Management Oversight Needed for Children’s Benefits, GAO-12-497, June 26, 2012, available at gao.gov/products/GAO-12-497).
If you feel your child may meet the medical requirements and your household income may be within the criteria, you can apply for child’s SSI by going to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. If you are unsure of the location, go to SocialSecurity.gov and enter “social security office locator” in the search term box then click on it on the next screen; the following screen will provide you a place for you to input your zip code to then provide your closest SSA’s address and business hours. You may also contact SSA’s national number at 800-772-1213.
Attorney Amy Bellhorn is a voice for the injured and disabled, and practices SSD, SSI and Child’s SSI in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas as well as nationally. For more information on the topic in this article, visit BellhornLawFirm.com. For a free consultation on this and other areas of law, such as Auto Accidents, Traffic Tickets, DUIs, and Criminal Defense, fill out the online form at BellhornLawFirm.com, call 727-822-7121, or email [email protected] Connect on social media FB, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. See ad page 43.