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Many people know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has benefits that people with disabilities can apply for. These benefits come from a variety of sources—either Social Security tax that workers pay during their employment, or from public taxes from those who can’t work or haven’t worked long enough to earn credits to qualify on their own. The relationship of the benefits to employment might make it a bit surprising to learn that the SSA also has benefits for children with disabilities, which parents can apply for to help meet the basic needs of a child.  

At Heermans disability law firm, we support clients throughout the application process for SSI and SSDI disability benefits, and can help parents as they apply for benefits to help them support and care for children with disabilities. Here, we’ll break down what children’s SSI is and how the application process works.

 What is children’s SSI?

The SSA has several programs that provide disability benefits. The first is called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This is for adults who meet certain employment criteria—those who worked long enough and recently enough while paying Social Security tax on their earnings. This program determines eligibility by credits earned by those paying Social Security tax during the course of their employment—these credits are based on income.

Not everyone with a disability fits into these SSDI criteria. The other program that provides disability benefits is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This program is funded by tax revenues, and provides monthly payments to help those with little or no income meet basic needs. The program provides benefits to adults or children with disabilities that meet non-work related criteria designated by the program.

When it comes to children’s SSI, the payments are intended to help parents cover the basic needs of children with physical or mental disabilities, or who are blind. The resources can help parents who have limited resources or income as they care for children with disabilities from birth to age 18.

How long has the children’s SSI program been around?

Disability benefits were first introduced to the SSA in 1956, with the SSDI program. Originally, these benefits were only for insured workers (those who had been paying Social Security tax) between 50 and 65, and for the disabled children of insured workers who had retired or passed away.

The SSI program that provides benefits to disabled adults and children didn’t come into existence until later, under President Nixon in 1969 and did not become law until 1972. While originally intended to help SSDI beneficiaries who were still living in poverty, this wasn’t the case with later modifications. By 1994, adults and children with blindness or disabilities made up about two thirds of the SSI roll. About 16% of people under 65 were children.

After the SSI program started, the number of children applying for SSI rose for a long time—especially as more children were screened for mental health conditions that were added to the criteria in the 1980s. The number has since leveled off as child poverty rates have fallen slightly creating a leveling out effect after years of increasing applications. The SSI program today provides benefits to about 1.2 million children—that’s 15% of people receiving SSI and 1.7% of all children in the country.  

How does the child SSI application process work?

The adult SSI application process asks the adult to fill out an application form for SSI and Disability benefits. Children’s SSI benefits, however, require several steps. The first is the Child Disability Report. This form can be filled out online, and covers information about the child’s condition, contact information for any doctors, and other personal, medical, and financial information about the parents and children involved. The form takes about an hour to complete, and the SSA provides a Starter Kit to help parents collect all the needed information.

After this form is completed, submitted, and reviewed, the SSA may contact you for an in person or video interview. During the interview the SSA will go over specific information about the child’s disability and will also cover your financial information, which can help determine your child’s eligibility. The SSA might also determine that they need more information and might require (and pay for) tests to determine the child’s disability.

Finally, it’s time to fill out the SSI application. This can be a complicated process for both adults and child applications – that’s why we’re here to help and why having an attorney on your side can make a big difference. After the application, the approval process may end up in a denial, reconsideration or an appeal or hearing.

How long do SSI benefits for children last?

Typically, children can receive benefits from birth to age 18, when they may be evaluated for adult SSI benefits—though there are some exceptions. If a child is still attending school, benefits may continue until he or she is 19.

The SSA also does reevaluations on children receiving benefits. If a child stops meeting the criteria, makes over a certain amount of money per year (this amount can change from year to year), or has parents who make over a designated amount, they may no longer be eligible for benefits even if they’re still under the age of 18.

Where can I find social security disability lawyers near me?

If you’re looking for the best disability lawyer serving Memphis and the entire Midsouth and beyond, Heermans Disability law firm is here to help. No matter where you are in the SSI application or appeal process, we’re here to help simplify the children’s SSI process for you. Our experience and training as a specialized SSA law firm mean that we know the application paperwork (for children and adults) inside and out, and can help you as you apply and appeal a decline as well as support you through your hearing and benefit approval. 

If you’re ready for the support that a social security disability attorney provides, give us a call at (901) 244-0057. Our online form can be used to provide you with a free evaluation—after you submit your free evaluation request we’ll provide some questions  that can be answered in 15 minutes so we can give you an evaluation of your case. The SSA can be overwhelming. Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm is here to help make it quick and easy.


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