Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for children with disabilities

Supplemental Security Income is available to children with disabilities from low-income and low-asset households. To be eligible for children’s SSI benefits, the child must be under 18, meet the child's definition of disability and meet the countable income and asset limits (which include the income and assets of parents or step-parents living in the home).

Who is Eligible

A child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for SSI:

  • The child must not be working and earning more than $1,070 a month in 2014 (this earnings amount usually changes every year). If he or she is working and earning that much money, SSA will find that the child is not disabled.
  • The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit the child’s activities.
  • The child’s condition(s) must be disabling, or be expected to be disabling, for at least 12 months, or must be expected to result in death.

Why Apply

SSI is provided to assist disabled individuals with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical expenses. Often, families that are caring for children with disabilities spend more money on the necessities of life and can offset these additional expenses with the added SSI income.

To Apply For

To apply for a child...

You will need to complete an Application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and a Child Disability Report. The report collects information about the child’s disabling condition and how it affects his/her ability to function.

At this time, only the Child Disability Report can be completed online. Please contact SSA to schedule an appointment to complete the SSI application. Call SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.  If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

Steps to Apply

  1. Review the Child Disability Starter Kit. This kit answers common questions about applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for children and includes a worksheet that will help parents to gather the information they need.
  2. Contact Social Security right away to find out whether the income and resources of the parents and the child are within the allowed limits and to start the SSI application process.
  3. Fill OUT the online Child Disability Report. At the end of the report, SSA will ask you to sign a form that gives the child's doctor(s) permission to give SSA information about his/her disability. SSA needs this information so that they can make a decision on the child’s claim.

Read More

Childhood Definition of Disability: The childhood definition of disability is different than the one used for adults. First, the child cannot have countable earnings above the "Substantial Gainful Activity" amount. Then, the child must have a physical or mental condition or combination of conditions that results in “marked and severe functional limitations,” and the condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. This functioning is assessed by looking at functioning without special education, extra help, or a special environment.

Age 18 Redeterminations: Once a child turns 18, SSA must review the child’s disability to determine if he or she meets the adult standard. This is usually done within 12 months of the 18th birthday. If the child is found NOT disabled by the adult standard, two more checks will be issued after that determination, and then benefits will stop. These redeterminations may be appealed just like any other disability determination. Individuals can request benefits pending a decision on the appeal of the initial (first) decision if they request this within 10 days. Otherwise, the regular 60 day appeal timeline applies. These benefits pending appeal will be considered an overpayment by the Social Security Administration if the individual is ultimately determined ineligible for adult benefits. However, if the request was made in good faith, the individual should request that SSA waive the overpayment.

Links to Important Resources

To learn more about SSI benefits for children with disabilities, click here.

For a detailed report on SSI benefits for children ages birth to three, click here.

For information on dedicated accounts in the case of past-due payments, click here.


Topics: Supplemental Security Income
Last updated July 26, 2018

« Back to browsing

Share this page

Sponsored by

  • Lloyd A. Fry Foundation
  • Boston Medical Center