Can You Receive SSI Benefits for Premature Children?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does provide Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to some infants born prematurely; however, premature birth is not the primary qualifier for SSI benefits. Instead, it’s weight at birth that determines whether or not an infant qualifies for disability benefits.

Any infant weighing less than 2 lbs. 10 oz. can receive SSI based on his or her low birth weight. Additionally, infants weighing anywhere between 2 lbs. 10 oz. and 4 lbs. 6 oz. at birth can potentially qualify for SSI benefits. It’s important to understand though that the SSA’s eligibility requirements are defined by your child’s gestational age at birth and his or her corresponding birth weight.

Gestational Age (in weeks) Birth Weight
33 2 lbs. 15 oz.
34 3 lbs. 5 oz.
35 3 lbs. 12 oz.
36 4 lbs. 2 oz.
37 to 40 4 lbs. 6 oz

Your infant may qualify for SSI benefits in three ways:

  • under the listing for low birth weight as long as your child is 6 months old or under
  • under another listed medical condition
  • by “functionally equaling” a listed condition

Once approved for SSI, whether under the low birth weight listing or under another listed disability, your child’s claim will undergo periodic continuing disability reviews (CDRs). CDRs are check-ins conducted by the SSA to determine if your child still qualifies benefits.

For infants that qualify under the low birth weight listing, the first CDR will happen before your child is one year old. If still suffering from significant complications due to his or her low birth weight and/or premature birth, your infant will continue to receive SSI benefits.

If your child is not suffering from any significant developmental delays at one year of age and does not have any other debilitating complications, then SSI benefits will end when your child reaches his or her first birthday.

If your child’s health complications are serious enough to meet the SSA’s listing criteria for other conditions, then SSI benefits will continue following the CDR. Among the complications that can qualify your child for continued SSI benefits are hearing loss, vision loss, growth impairment, asthma, congenital heart defects and disease, digestive tract disorders, and diabetes, among others.

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