How Can Children Qualify for Social Security Disability?

Whether you are a parent, caregiver, or representative for a child living with a disability, the disability application process can seem daunting. This overview, will help you understand if your child is eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits.

When applying for disability benefits for your child, you will be required to submit detailed information regarding the severity of his or her medical condition. Also, there will be inquires about how your child's disabling condition hinders and affects mobility on a daily basis. The disability application process may require your permission for people in your child's life who are highly aware of his or her debilitating medical condition to submit their assessment of the situation. This includes: doctors, teachers, coaches, counselors, and mentors. Another way to speed up the application process is to have your child's medical and school records on hand, as they will be critical for him or her to be approved for disability benefits.

All the information that you compile is then submitted to the Disability Determination Services for your state. They will conduct research and gather further records that they might need to determine if your child is eligible for disability benefits or not. The staff is trained, and a doctor will review the application. If the information is not extensive enough for the Disability Determination Services to come to a conclusion, they will require more school records or medical records, as well as a possible medical examination. If the medical examination becomes necessary, the Social Security Administration will compensate you for the exam.

The whole process is, unfortunately, quite lengthy - ranging from three to five months to determine whether your child is eligible for disability. However, some medical conditions garner immediate payments for up to six months until a decision is reached regarding the disability benefits. Here are some medical conditions that may qualify for Social Security Disability:

  • HIV infection
  • Total blindness
  • Total deafness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Severe mental retardation (ages 7 and up)
  • Birth weight below 2 pounds 10 ounces

If your child does have one of these conditions, then he or she should begin receiving benefits immediately. If, later on, it is decided that your child is not eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, then the money you previously received will remain yours, but no more will be offered.

A mandatory review will be ongoing to determine if your child is still disabled, even after he or she receives benefits. When children are younger than the age of eighteen, they should expect a review every three years. If a baby is receiving benefits because of a low birth weight, a review will be given after a year unless the condition is thought to not improve within a year – at which point a later date may be scheduled. You must show proof that your child is being treated for their condition with a treatment that is termed “medically necessary” based on your child's condition. Once your child turns eighteen, he or she is considered an adult and the application process changes.

Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of a successful disability claim submission:

  • Try to give an in-depth explanation of your child's medical condition or conditions; for example: care involved with daily grooming, getting dressed, eating, and showering. Be sure to include any behavioral issues, or range of mobility and how this affects your child on a moment-by-moment basis.
  • Keep track of dates that your child was in the hospital, visiting the doctor, or useful patient account numbers. (This makes obtaining medical records much easier.)
  • Submit copies of any medical records or detailed reports that you have regarding your child's disabling condition.

There are very distinct requirements involved for qualifying for disability. According to the Social Security Administration’s website, your child needs to meet all of these requirements in order to be eligible:

  • The child must not be working or earning more than $733 a month in 2016. If he or she is working and earning that much money, the SSA will find that the child does not meet the criteria for assistance.
  • The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, which results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition or conditions must very seriously limit your child's activities.
  • The child's condition or conditions must have lasted, or be expected to last, 12 months, or be expected to result in death.

If your child has a condition that was not expected to improve but in fact did, then your child will no longer be considered disabled.
The best thing you can do is keep detailed records of your child's medical history and describe your child's severe medical condition to the fullest of your ability. Navigating the benefits application process for children with disabilities is not easy, but it is possible and can greatly assist you in caring for your child throughout his or her life.