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Do Children Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

When most people think about children are not the first thing that comes to mind. Many people believe that Social Security Disability benefits are only for adults who are no longer able to work. This is certainly not the case. Social Security Disability benefits are not isolated to adults who are unable to earn an income to support themselves. Children can, and do, qualify for Social Security Disability benefits in certain cases.

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a disabled child, you may wonder whether or not that child qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits and exactly which benefits that child may qualify for. While the rules and benefits for disabled adults and disabled children are similar, there are some distinct differences.

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits for a child is similar to applying for disability benefits as an adult. The applicant must prove that a disability exists through medical and academic records and other validating evidence. It must also be determined that the disability will last for a period of one year or more. If these conditions are met, the child may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

There are two programs for disabled children who qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If a child is under the age of 18 and his or her parents have limited income, that child may qualify for the Supplemental Security Income program. This program provides the child with a monthly payment up until that child reaches the age of 18.

In order to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, the child must have a disabling condition that meets the Social Security Administration's disability guidelines and the parents' income must not exceed the allowed income limits. If these criteria are met, the child can begin receiving monthly payments from the Social Security Administration. However, it is important to understand that payments to disabled children under the Supplemental Security Income program end when the child reaches the age of 18.

To continue receiving benefits after the age of 18, the child must apply for Social Security Disability Insurance. Many people worry that their children will not qualify for these benefits because the child, due to the disability, has never paid taxes into the Social Security program. Fortunately, this isn't the case. If the child's disability began before the age of 22 and the parents worked long enough to be insured under the Social Security program, that child can then qualify for benefits even if they never paid into the Social Security program themselves.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Children of Disabled Adults

Some children are entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits even if they, themselves, are not disabled. If a child is the dependent of a parent who is disabled, then that child may be entitled to auxiliary benefits as the dependent of the disabled adult.

The amount of money a child can receive as a dependent of a disabled adult is directly related to the amount that the parent paid into the Social Security system while they were able to work. If the child's parent paid very little into the Social Security program, then it is possible that the child may not receive any Social Security Disability benefits. However, if the parent paid enough Social Security taxes when they were employed, then the auxiliary Social Security benefits for the child would reflect this fact and the child could receive a monthly benefit. This benefit is limited, however, to the child's status as a dependent. If a child is receiving as the dependent of a disabled adult, those benefits would terminate when the child reached adulthood.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits for a Child

If you believe that you have a child who qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits, it is important to speak with the child's doctor, as you will need supporting evidence for your claim. Even if you do not qualify for Supplemental Security Income due to income levels that exceed the established limits, you need to begin documenting your child's disability if you want them to receive Social Security Disability Insurance as an adult. For a disabled adult to receive Social Security Disability benefits, they must have paid into the Social Security system or there must be evidence that the disability began before the child reached the age of 22.

To apply for Social Security Disability benefits for your child, contact your local Social Security office and schedule an appointment. You will need to bring in a certified copy of your child's birth certificate, proof of your income and resources, school records, medical records and any supporting evidence of your Social Security Disability claim. Once the appointment has been scheduled and the documents have been provided, the process can begin to approve your child for the Social Security Disability benefits they may be entitled to.