Caring for your children is the most important job any parent has, but even under the best of circumstances, it can be a challenge. If your child has a disability or you become disabled and are unable to work, the job becomes even more difficult. Children’s social security disability was created to help out disabled parents or parents with children who have disabilities. The federal government has several programs families can apply for through the Social Security Administration (SSA) to receive monetary benefits.
The SSA distributes around $2.6 billion each month to more than 4 million children through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Millions of additional children also received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Many families don’t realize they’re eligible for benefits, and many are overwhelmed by the application process, so many families don’t apply. Don’t let this happen to you.
The children’s social security disability lawyers at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, located in Oklahoma City, have extensive experience handling disability claims. We have helped thousands of clients get the benefits they need. Get started on your child’s claim when you schedule a free legal consultation by calling us or filling out a form online.
SSI and SSDI for Children: What’s the Difference?
While children with disabilities and their families can both apply for benefits through the SSI and SSDI programs, the programs work slightly differently and are aimed at different groups of people.
Social Security Disability Insurance is what most people think of when they hear the phrase “Social Security disability benefits.” SSDI pays benefits to disabled workers and their family members, provided that the worker who’s applying for benefits has worked recently enough and for long enough to qualify. That’s because SSDI benefits are paid for through the Social Security taxes on your paycheck.
Supplemental Security Income provides benefits for disabled individuals with limited incomes and financial resources, including children. SSI benefits do not have a work history requirement.
The medical requirements for both SSI and SSDI benefits are similar, though there are some minor differences in the other criteria. If a child meets the qualifications for either SSI or SSDI benefits, monthly benefits are paid as long as the child has a disabling medical condition that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.
What Qualifies a Child for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Part of the reason that many families do not apply for their children’s social security disability is that they don’t know they qualify. The qualifications for these benefits are fairly broad, though getting the necessary documentation to prove a disability can be a challenge.
To receive SSDI benefits through their parents, a child must be unmarried and:
- Be under age 18, or
- 18-19 and a full-time student (can’t be higher than grade 12), or
- 18+ and have a disability that started before age 22
- The parent must be disabled or eligible for Social Security retirement benefits
For older children, once they reach age 18, their disability will be evaluated by the Social Security Administration using the same process used for adults. In some cases, older children can collect SSDI benefits from their parents, as well as benefits under their own name. For this to happen, the child’s parent must be disabled or retired and eligible for Social Security benefits, or the parent must have died after having worked in a job where they paid enough Social Security taxes to qualify for benefits.
There are slightly different requirements for children applying for SSI benefits. In addition to meeting the income standards required for SSI benefits, the child must be blind or otherwise disabled. However, it’s important to note that there’s no minimum age requirement for SSI benefits. They can start as early as birth, should the child meet the SSA’s definition of disability or blindness. These benefits can be extremely helpful for families struggling to take care of a newborn with special needs, for example.
SSDI Benefits for Dependents
Disabled workers can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits not only for themselves but also for members of their family. This makes sense when you consider that, especially in families with younger children, a parent may be supporting themself, their spouse and their children (including any disabled children) all on their own.
SSDI benefits can be paid to workers as well as their husband or wife, a divorced spouse, children (including children with disabilities), and adult children under age 22.
Who Can Apply for SSI for a Child?
Parents or a child’s legal guardian can apply for SSI benefits for their children. This includes stepparents, adoptive parents, grandparents, etc. You may need to bring additional documentation to prove you are legally responsible for the child before you can apply for benefits on their behalf.
While parents and guardians can apply for SSI benefits on behalf of their children, we recommend speaking with a disability lawyer before filing any paperwork. The SSA and other agencies often require specific tests and other documentation before they’ll issue any benefits.
Failing to provide the necessary evidence is one of the most common reasons benefit applications are denied. You can save yourself a great deal of time and energy by having an attorney review your application for any errors or other issues before sending it out.
How a Lawyer Can Help Get Social Security Benefits for a Child
Applying for SSI or SSDI benefits for your child can be a lengthy, complicated, frustrating process. There’s lots of evidence you need to gather, tests you need to administer, paperwork to file, and bureaucracy to deal with.
To do all that, while dealing with the ordinary stresses of life and caring for a child, especially one with disabilities, is a nightmare. A social security disability attorney can do much of the work of preparing your application for you while keeping you informed at every step.
Here are some of the ways our team can help you:
1. Gathering Evidence
This is one of the most important functions of any disability attorney. The SSA and other agencies often require specific tests to determine if a child fits their definition of disability, and they may even require the test to be performed by a certain doctor or at a certain clinic. The requirements may also vary by age or by the specific condition that the child has.
Not having the right information and documentation is the biggest reason disability benefits claims are denied. A disability lawyer can gather the information you need, including scheduling tests and other appointments with doctors, while you focus on the important matters of your daily life.
2. Filing Your Paperwork
The SSA is a substantial bureaucracy, and even minor issues with your paperwork can delay or derail the application process. An attorney can review your application before you file to make sure everything is filled out correctly, which gives you a better chance of getting the benefits you need in a timely fashion.
3. Representing You at an Appeal Hearing
Should your application for benefits be denied, you have another chance to receive them by taking part in a hearing. These hearings require special preparation, as you need to be aware of the legal issues at stake, what questions to ask of state officials or other experts, what information is needed to prove your claim, and so on. An attorney’s help could make it much more likely that you will get the desired result at your hearing.
FAQs About Social Security Child Benefits
While it’s important that you discuss your specific circumstances with an experienced attorney, we’ve provided general answers to some common questions about children’s social security disability and SSI benefits.
Is there a maximum benefit amount?
For SSI benefits, the maximum monthly benefit is set by the federal government every year. The maximum benefit amount increases with any cost-of-living adjustments to standard Social Security benefits.
The Social Security Administration has the 2020 maximum benefit amounts listed here. For SSDI benefits, eligible family dependents can receive up to 50 percent of the benefit that the primary worker receives. However, there are limits on what any one family can receive in terms of SSDI benefits. According to the SSA website, the total benefit limit for most families is equivalent to about 150 percent of the primary worker’s monthly benefit.
Are children’s disability benefits taxable?
The short answer is “yes,” but you most likely will not have to pay taxes on their benefits. Whether a child’s disability benefits are taxable is determined by the child’s income, not their parents’. If the child’s total income plus half of their Social Security benefits don’t exceed $25,000, you will not have to pay taxes on their benefits.
What happens if my application for benefits is denied?
If your initial application is denied – and many are – you are entitled to a hearing before the agency that administers Social Security benefits. This is another chance to make your case, but hearings require special preparation and help from a lawyer who knows what questions to ask. We recommend speaking with a disability lawyer before filing any applications for benefits, but if your initial application has already been denied, you absolutely want to hire a lawyer to represent you at the appeal hearing.
Contact Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons for Help with Your Child’s SSI or SSDI Claim
Don’t let bureaucracy get in the way of the benefits you need to care for your disabled child. Get your initial consultation today by calling us or visiting our contact page.Get Started