If a child under the age of 18 is disabled or has parents that are disabled, he or she may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Because a disabled child requires more care, benefits may be paid to help alleviate some of these costs. If the child has disabled parents, benefits are paid to help with the normal costs of raising a child since the parents are unable to earn the income needed to do so.
Children of parents with injuries approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are eligible for benefits. In order to qualify, the child must be under the age of 18 and/or in school full time (this exception is given to children that have not year reached their 19th birthday). If a child is disabled after his or her 18th birthday but before he or she turns 22, he or she may also qualify for benefits (pending verification of age).
The benefits for the child are based on the benefits available to the parent. A child approved for benefits may receive as much as half of the parents benefit. However, the SSA does have a “cap” on benefits that can be paid to an entire family, which ranges from 150 to 180 percent. A priority is given to the disabled parent in the case where the “normal” benefits paid exceed the limit. All other family members will receive a proportionate reduction in their benefits in this situation.
For a child to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the SSA must approve the disability. The terms of approval for a disability in this case are that his or her physical capabilities must severely limit his or her mental or physical condition. This condition must be life threatening or be expected to last one year or longer. Additionally, limited income and/or resources are required for approval.
To get the process started, you will need to visit the Social Security Administration website for a checklist of all information needed for the initial interview. While some of the information may be submitted online, the application itself must be done via telephone or in person. The process and the interview itself can be rather intimidating, which is why many parents will seek the assistance of a qualified Social Security disability attorney.
The application will be reviewed by your state agency for the SSA and if any additional information is needed to process the application, you will be contacted by it. Generally, decisions are handed out in less than five months by mail. If you are denied benefits, there is an appeal process to attempt to reverse the decision. Because these cases can be complicated, we strongly recommend consulting with a local attorney specializing Social Security disability law.