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Can disabled children receive Social Security Disability benefits?

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The 2010 U.S. Census reported that about 2.8 million children between ages 5 and 17 suffer from disabilities. These children and their families often face many challenges, including paying for medical care and special accommodations. Fortunately, support may be available to children in Chicago who suffer from severe disabilities. These children may qualify for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability benefits, depending on age and other factors.

SSI disability for children

Children under age 18 cannot directly receive SSD benefits. However, they may qualify for SSI benefits, which are available to people with disabilities and limited financial resources. A child may qualify for benefits by meeting the following requirements:

  • The child must have a medical condition or multiple conditions that significantly limit his or her functional abilities and activities.
  • The condition must be expected to result in death or last longer than one year.
  • The child must not perform work with income greater than $1,070 per month. The income of family members living in the child's household also must fall below this threshold. Expenses relating to the child's education may be deducted from household income.

Once a disabled child turns 18, the Social Security Administration stops considering the income of other household members. The SSA also conducts a disability review to determine whether the child's condition meets the adult definition of disability.

The condition must meet the longevity requirements listed above and prevent the child from performing work he or she did before. It must also preclude the child from reasonably pursuing other employment. If these criteria aren't met, the child loses eligibility for disability benefits.

SSD for adult children

At age 18, a disabled child becomes eligible for SSD benefits. To receive benefits, the child must meet the adult criteria for disability. The child must also have an adequate earnings record.

If the child worked before the disability began or in spite of the disability, the child might be able to claim benefits based off his or her own record. Otherwise, adult children may collect an "adult child's benefit" based off the earnings record of a qualifying parent. The qualifying parent must be eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits. A deceased parent with an adequate earnings record is also considered a qualifying parent.

If a child becomes disabled before age 22, the child may still be eligible to collect an adult child's benefit. However, if the child did not previously receive SSI benefits, the child must apply for SSD benefits. Since many SSD claims are denied at the initial level, disabled adult children and their families can often benefit from seeking qualified help when completing the application.

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