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Can Children with Learning Disabilities Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

There are occasions when a child with a learning disability may qualify to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Under what circumstances a child is approved depends on whether criteria that is based on Social Security Disability requirements have been met.

The Social Security Disability Act defines a disability as, "an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physician or mental impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months or result in death."

Under such conditions, many children with mental and learning disabilities may qualify, depending on case-by-case scenarios. For example, a child diagnosed with autism may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, but such cases must be backed up with medical evidence provided by an acceptable source. Acceptable medical sources include doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other fully-licensed individuals in specific mental health fields.

A child under the age of 18 is eligible to qualify for Social Security Disability payments if they meet the Social Security Administration's definition of a childhood disability. The amount of an actual SSDI payment differs from one state to another. Parents or caregivers of a child with a learning disability should consult a Social Security attorney to learn more about the application process and which benefits they might qualify for (SSDI or SSI) and the estimated amount of payment they might receive.

In order for a child to be eligible for Social Security insurance, a child must meet of requirements, including:

  • The child must be diagnosed with a mental condition, a physical condition or a combination of disabling conditions that create "marked and severe functional limitations." According to the Social Security Administration, these limitations must have a serious impact on the child's activities or ability to engage in daily activities.
  • The child's condition must have been diagnosed with a condition that is expected to last at least one year.
  • The child can't earn over a certain amount of money per year. In 2011, the earning limitation was $1,000 a month. Children who are able to work and make that much money are not usually considered disabled.

Childhood learning disabilities may range from mild to severe, and parents or caregivers applying for Social Security Disability benefits for such children should fill out a Child Disability Report and notify the child's physician and school in order to facilitate their preparation of required documentation to support the claim.

Parents or caregivers will also be expected to appear for a Childhood Disability Interview. Medical information provided by doctors, therapists, clinics or hospitals that have treated the child for at least a year will be required, as well any current medical records that you may have. The Social Security Administration will also want to know about any medications the child is currently taking.

Information regarding when the child's conditions began, how those conditions affect the child's abilities and activities and names of teachers, schools, and any school therapists should also be included. A list of clinics, doctors, therapists or hospitals that have seen the child within the past year will also be required.

With proper documentation and an adequate collection of such documentation as well as thorough preparation for a child disability interview, children with learning disabilities may certainly receive disability benefits. The key is to prepare and have all requested documentation available at the time of the application and interview process, and a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer will be able to help in this process. Click here to request a free disability evaluation and help with your claim from a lawyer who serves your area.