SSI for Children with Disabilities

The Social Security Administration (hereinafter SSA) considers income and disability as two separate eligibility factors for childhood Supplemental Security Income (hereinafter SSI) benefits.

SSI is a means-tested program that provides cash assistance and Medicaid coverage to certain aged, blind and disabled persons. All recipients, regardless of age, must meet financial tests. Assets, such as bank accounts, the cash value of whole life insurance, bonds, a second house or car are considered. A house, one car, household goods, and burial spaces, are exempt. Income, both earned and unearned of parents or essential persons, such as an aunt or grandparent that lives with and cares for the child, are deemed to the disabled child. In-kind support, such as a grandparent providing free housing or purchasing food can affect benefits. This is why children under 18 seldom receive SSI unless the parents are lower income.

SSA has created Listings of Impairments that a child must meet in order to be determined disabled. The childhood Listings are medical conditions that the SSA have determined to be severe enough to disable a child. Examples of Listings are Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism. These are called Listings because there is a list of symptoms that must be present in order to be determined disabled. If you do not meet one of the Listings a child may “functionally” equal a Listing, by having marked to extreme limitations in two or more of the following (1) Acquiring and using information, (2) Attending and completing tasks, (3) Interacting and relating with others, (4) Moving about and manipulating objects, (5) Caring for self, and (6) Health and physical wellbeing. For more information visit to see a copy of SSA Publication 05-10026—Benefits for Children with Disabilities.


Disclaimer:  Information contained in this column is meant to be of general information on frequently asked questions concerning disability, elder law, estate planning and probate law, and does not contain specific legal advice to a client.  No attorney-client relationship is created by reading this column.

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