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Children and Supplemental Security Income benefits

Our Minneapolis Social Security Disability blog mainly discusses the types of benefits folks may be entitled to receive when they can no longer work as a result of a debilitating illness or injury. But families should understand that their children may also be eligible to obtain disability benefits if they suffer from physical or mental impairments.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program helps disabled workers who have worked long enough to be insured by the program and who have paid Social Security taxes. In some cases, family members of a disabled worker may also be eligible for benefits. Because disabled children are not working individuals, they are not able to receive SSDI benefits. However, they may be eligible to obtain Supplemental Security Income benefits.

The SSI program is a need-based program that offers benefits to those who have limited financial resources and limited work histories.

Children who suffer from severe impairments may be eligible to obtain SSI benefits. A list of impairments can be found on the Social Security Administration's website. What may be surprising to some families is that ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is one of the impairments that is listed as a disabling condition.

ADHD affects many children in Minnesota and throughout the country. The SSA recognizes that the condition can be a disabling medical problem for children. However, strict criteria must be met before a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD can collect SSI benefits. In fact, fewer than 25 percent of claims involving children who have ADHD are approved for SSI benefits.

When families do file a claim on behalf of a child who suffers from a disability that is a listed impairment on the SSA's website, the SSA will carefully review the child's medical history and current abilities in order to determine whether the child's condition is severe. Typically, the SSA will evaluate the following:

  • The child's ability or inability to acquire or use information
  • The child's ability or inability to perform and complete tasks
  • The child's ability or inability to move objects

The SSA will also evaluate the child's overall health and well being before approving or denying a claim for SSI benefits. When a child's condition is documented by a doctor and when the SSA determines that the child's condition is severe enough, the child may be awarded disability benefits under the SSI program.

Source: Delmarva Now, "Can ADHD children get SSI benefits?" Robert McCraig, Oct. 14, 2012

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