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Social Security Benefits for Children

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not only approve the disability claims of senior citizens and retirees and provide them disability benefits. The principal US government agency that supervises the social security disability program also provides disability benefits to children. Every month in 2017, according to the SSA, nearly 4.2 million vulnerable children received $2.6 billion in social security benefits.

Children who have little to no income sources and suffer from any of the severe disabling impairments listed in the SSA’s Blue Book qualify for the Social Security Benefits for Children program. However, before considering a disabled child eligible for social security benefits and the amount of compensation, the SSA takes all income sources available to the child into consideration. 

After the age of 18, a disabled child who has already been receiving disability benefits as per the SSI disability for children program needs to qualify for the adult definition of disabling impairments. The SSA will reduce the amount of compensation a child receives once they turn 18 if they are aware that they still receive shelter and food from their parents.  

Can You Receive Social Security Disability for Children?

There are three primary ways in which children can receive some disability benefits from Social Security:

  • The first is by receiving disability benefits under the earnings record of their parents. In other words, if a child’s parents become disabled or die, the child can collect disability benefits under the parents’ earnings record. If you are applying for disability benefits and have any children under 18, it is imperative to tell Social Security about your children. If your claim for disability is approved, your children will start receiving benefits automatically. These types of benefits depend upon the health of the parent, not the child’s health. The intent behind these benefits is that there be some protection for children whose parents have lost the ability to earn and would otherwise be providing for their financial well-being.
  •  The second way a child can receive benefits is related to the first. An adult child who can prove disability since before age 22 can receive disability benefits based on their deceased, retired, or disabled parents’ earnings records. Often the disabled child may be in their 30s or 40s by the time one of their parents becomes disabled, retires, or dies. Very few people even know that such benefits exist. Proving such cases is very complicated, and you should almost always seek legal representation even for what seems like an obvious case.
  • The third primary way children can receive disability benefits is by being approved for supplemental security income or SSI. SSI is limited to only those with very little money or resources; it is a welfare program. If you do not meet the resources test for SSI, no benefits can be awarded regardless of how sick the child is. In performing this resource test, Social Security looks at the child’s assets and the parents’ assets.

Because of the resource test, there are many families with sick children who cannot qualify for SSI. Assuming you pass the resources test, the child must then prove disability.

There was a great deal of litigation regarding child cases in the 1980s and 1990s. Social-Security-Benefits-for-ChildrenUltimately, the Supreme Court found the child disability standard to be unconstitutional. As a result of that decision, Congress passed legislation setting a new standard for child disability under SSI. It is a strict definition.

Due to that fact, it can often be tough to obtain SSI benefits for Children. Children are assessed in 6 general areas of functioning. They must prove marked limitations in at least 2 of the six areas or in 1 area of extreme restriction. Many people who have problems with their children file for SSI, claiming “ADD,” “ADHD,” or “ODD.”

These generic and overly diagnosed conditions are generally not sufficient to prove eligibility. There must be evidence of profound functional restrictions and constant medical care. In determining a child’s disability, it is essential to have the full support of a physician that the child sees on a very regular basis.

If you are considering pursuing a child’s disability benefits through SSI or seeking disabled adult child benefits, you must find the assistance of an experienced lawyer. 

Social Security Benefits for a Child of Disabled Parent

Disability benefits are paid by social security when a working individual becomes disabled after succumbing to a severe illness and completely loses the ability to work and earn income. The SSA provides disability benefits to disabled individuals who cannot support their families due to serious conditions. Based on the type of disability benefit an individual receives, his or her child also qualifies for the social security disability benefits for children program. Every month the child will receive a percentage of the compensated amount that one of their parents, stepparents, or adoptive parents receives or, was eligible to receive before their death. Under specific scenarios, the SSA also provides benefits to a grandchild and step-grandchild

Depending on the social security disability benefits of a parent, when a child receives social security benefits, it is known as social security dependent benefits or auxiliary benefit. To be eligible the child must be unmarried and meet the following criteria:

  • Under the age of 18; or
  • 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than 12th grade); or
  • 18 or older and have a disability that began before the age of 22

Typically, child disability benefits end when a child turns 18 unless they are disabled. If a child is still a student in grade 12 or below, they will continue to receive benefits until they complete grade 12 or until two months after the child becomes 19 (whichever comes first).

Key Documents You Require When Applying for Child’s Social Security Benefit

The following specific documents need to be provided when applying for social security benefits for your child/children: 

  • The birth certificate of the child/children
  • The Social Security number of both the parent and the child/children 
  • Several documents related to the type of benefit a parent is receiving from the SSA

Keep in mind that obtaining a Social Security number for your child/children is extremely important. You cannot apply if your child does not have a social security number.

Social Security Child Benefits Questions

Several questions may come to mind regarding the social security child benefit. It is important to have your questions answered prior to applying.  

How much Social Security pays for a dependent child?

SSI Benefits for ChildrenA child, who is entitled to social security benefits, can collect up to 50% of the parent’s monthly disability benefit or full retirement. Please be aware that there is a limit on the compensation amount that a family can receive. When the SSA performs their Social Security disability benefit calculation, they determine the maximum disability payment for the family. The limit is based on the amount of the disabled individual’s SSDI benefits. The maximum family payment ranges from 150-180 percent of the disability benefit that the disabled individual in the family receives every month.

For what can you use the benefits your child receives?

If you are looking after your child’s general living and necessary medical expenses without using the monthly disability benefit, the SSA permits you to use the Social Security benefit that your child receives for his or her clothing, enjoyment, and several other expenses. You can also use the amount for your child’s education if he or she is studying in a secondary school as a full-time student.

How long can a child receive Social Security dependent benefit?

A child is eligible to collect Social Security dependent benefits until they turn 18. The month before a child turns 18, the SSA stops providing the benefit. In some cases, a child receives benefits until he or she leaves secondary school or graduates. It is also important to note before filing an SSI application form for child, that a child can receive such benefits for an indefinite period if he or she is suffering from a disabling condition that occurred prior to the age of 22.

How can a disability lawyer help attain SSI for children?

You will be able to avoid the taxing and time-consuming disability claim process if you consider getting in touch with a professional disability lawyer. Providing substantial evidence and knowing the rules and regulations of the disability program are imperative to successfully attaining social security benefits for your child’s disability. If you hire a responsible and competent new jersey disability attorney, together with their staff, will handle the application process on your behalf.

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