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Children With Disabilities: Do You Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

If you have a child who is diagnosed with a long-term illness or disability, you might feel overwhelmed with the changes you will face. Not only do many children need special care that some parents might not be able to fully provide, but they also often require costly medication, surgeries, or equipment to help adapt to everyday life. 

Two types of assistance are available to people and families of individuals who have disabilities or chronic illness. Social Security Disability Insurance is usually not available for disabled children. Instead, you can use a separate program called Supplemental Security Insurance to get financial assistance for your child. 


Many parents don’t know where to start or what benefits are actually available for them to claim. Take a look to find out if your child might help you qualify for the help you need.  

Financial Eligibility

Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) provides a monetary payment each month to families with very low income levels and few assets. In order to qualify for SSI, your income and your expenses will be considered.

Your family and your child will have to meet certain basic requirements in order to qualify for Social Security disability. The amount of monetary assistance you receive will be based off the severity of the disability and your own household income. 

In order to receive supplemental benefits, your household income cannot exceed more than $1125 per month for a two-parent home. Single-parent or single-earner homes cannot make more than $750. These income levels seem low, but many things do not count toward your income. For example, the Social Security Administration considers the following:

  • SNAP benefits. Any money or food assistance you get on your SNAP card is not income.
  • Earned income deductions. The first 65 dollars of your income do not count toward the limit. On top of that, only 50 percent of the rest of your income might be considered, which allows you to meet the income requirements while still earning more than $750 or $1125.
  • Your child’s income. Children, especially those with disabilities, usually do not make income, so that means that some of your income is considered as their income. Because children are a financial liability, they often qualify for SSI benefits even if a parent has a higher income than those listed above. 

The state of Utah also provides some supplemental income for disabled children, so you can expect more help from the state as well. A Social Security attorney can help you navigate the complexities of financial qualifications. 

Medicaid Assistance

If your child qualifies for SSI, you almost always qualify for Medicaid coverage in Utah. If you do not qualify for SSI because your income is too high, you might still get help through Medicaid, but you might need legal assistance to do so. Medically needy children have special consideration for medical benefits in Utah.

Eligible Conditions

Finally, after the financial aspects of eligibility are ironed out, make sure that your child has a condition that allows for them to get benefits. This is the area where many applications for help can be rejected.

The guideline for the medical needs of your child is that the condition must provide severe limitations to their daily activities, and the disability itself must have lasted a year or must be expected to last at least a year from the time it is diagnosed.

For example, if a child becomes deaf, this condition provides a severe limitation in daily activity. Deafness might not be curable for the child, so even though the condition was just diagnosed, the hearing loss is permanent, which would allow for immediate SSI qualification, even though a year has not passed. 

On the other hand, if a child is diagnosed with cancer, the prognosis of the illness might be uncertain. Even though the illness is debilitating, it might be treated and in remission before a year passes. If after a year has passed and the child still needs treatment, you can then apply for benefits.

The exception is terminal illness; children who are terminal qualify even if a year has not passed. 

Many parents wonder what conditions are covered. The Social Security Administration has a book of allowable conditions which makes the application process easier. However, sometimes the condition is not listed and you must fight for benefits. 

Some illnesses are not named, are hard to diagnose, or they are unique. A gene disorder, for example, might mean your child has disabilities but no name to the condition. A diagnosis might only come after extensive genetic testing.

For these kinds of illnesses that are tough to diagnose but still cause daily struggles, you should consult a Social Security attorney. You will also need more documentation from doctors and other health professionals in order to prove that your child does in fact have physical or mental limitations. 

For more information on getting the help you need for your child, contact the office of Glen Cook Social Security Attorney.