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Many parents would attest: there is little they wouldn’t do for the sake of their children. But for families below the poverty line with disabled children, additional financial stressors and vulnerability can feel oppressive. Children’s Supplemental Security Income, or Children’s SSI, can be a much needed lifeline for families that care for special needs children.

Programs like Medicaid and special education services are essential, but they do not support the household income of families with a child who is disabled or has special medical needs. Children’s Supplemental Security Income provides financial aid to cover both living expenses and disability-related expenses in qualifying households.

Could Children’s SSI Disability Benefits be helpful to your family? It depends on the details of both your child’s disability and your household income. Let’s dig into the specifics of Children’s SSI benefits — from eligibility standards to child qualifications — to better understand this federal program.

What Exactly Is Children’s Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income for Children should not be confused with Social Security Disability Insurance, which is a separate program with different qualifiers. SSI, which is sometimes referred to as “disability benefits,” provides monthly cash payments to approved individuals and families through a federal Social Security program. 

Every family with a disabled or special medical needs child can use all the support possible. But it’s important to note that Children’s Supplemental Security Income is only for families that fall within specific income and asset limits. The amount of monthly payment is based upon the federal SSI payment amount for the year, but can be reduced based on a stringent income calculator. For the year 2021, the maximum monthly federal SSI benefit for an individual is $794

Who Is Eligible for SSI?

In addition to meeting the resource and income limitations for the Children’s SSI program, other key factors determine your family’s eligibility. Perhaps most important are the details surrounding your child’s disability status

Children (aged 17 years and younger) must present with a qualifying physical or mental disability or healthcare diagnosis that significantly impacts their daily function. Additionally, the timeline of their diagnosis matters. 

Key Disability Qualifiers

The Social Security website defines a qualifying disabled status of impairment as exhibiting “marked and severe functional limitations,” which can be examined in six domains:

  • Acquiring and using information
  • Attending and completing tasks
  • Interacting and relating with others
  • Moving about and manipulating objects
  • Caring for yourself
  • Health and physical well-being

These domains are assessed on a scale of “moderate” to “extreme.” They must be present in at least two areas to qualify for SSI benefits. Some qualifying conditions in children can include autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, blindness, and various diseases (for example, cancer). A child can also qualify for SSI benefits if their impairment meets or equals in severity one of SSA’s listed impairments. 

How Does Children’s SSI Work?

So how exactly does Children’s SSI work? Once a household has been approved by the Social Security Administration (both medically and non-medically), they are able to receive monthly Children’s Supplemental Security Income benefits. For 2021, here are the amounts based on the Cost-of-Living-Adjustments (COLA).

Remember that this is a federal payment not for disability services, but rather for the living expenses that can pile up for families with disabled children. Programs such as SSDI, Medicaid, and public special education are separate, but they can be received concurrently for qualified families.

Children’s SSI Payment Information

As we touched on above, the amount of a family’s monthly SSI allotment is contingent upon their household income and resources. It can change from family to family, year to year, and state to state.

A family can opt for their preferred way of receiving the monthly SSI payment: direct deposit or Direct Express® Debit Mastercard. You can find more specific information on these options on the Social Security Administration site.

It’s important to note that your SSI status will be reviewed intermittently to determine continued eligibility for monthly benefits. A redetermination assesses whether your child’s disability, your living situation, or income/resources have drastically changed. Under these circumstances, it is possible for a family to lose their Children’s Supplemental Security Income.

Applying for SSI for Children 

Parents shouldn’t have to choose between working and caring for their disabled or special medical needs children when help is available. If you have closely reviewed the eligibility qualifications and think Children’s Supplemental Security Income can benefit your family — or if you want help understanding the qualifications and how they apply to you —  a knowledgeable disability attorney can help guide you through the application process. 

Feingold Law Office can ensure you get the most out of the benefits to which you are entitled. They can help you file for disability correctly. Because you deserve to have the best support for your family in trying times.