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Supplemental Security Income for Disabled Children: Understanding the Basics

In general, a child who is disabled may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits under the Social Security Act. First, we must determine who is considered a “child” for purposes of Social Security benefits. A child for purposes of Social Security benefits is a person who is neither married nor head of household and is under the age of 18 or a student regularly attending school who is under the age of 22. It is important to note there is no minimum age requirement. Once the definition of a “child” is met then the child must meet the criteria of disabled or blind. To be disabled, the child must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which result in marked and severe functional limitations. Additionally, these impairments must have lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. There are childhood listings to consider; if a child meets or equals one of the listings then they would be found to be disabled. However, most cases will be assessed by looking at whether the child’s impairments “functionally equal the listings” (SSA Code of Federal Regulations§ 416.926a). Basically, a judge must find that the impairments results in “marked” limitations in two domains of functioning or “extreme” limitation in one domain. So, what are the domains considered? There are six domains considered which are: 1) acquiring and using information; 2) attending and completing tasks; 3) interacting and relating with others; 4) moving about and manipulating objects; 5) caring for [themselves]; and 6) health and physical well-being. The child’s limitations and abilities in these domains are compared with other children in their age group. Overall, every child’s impairments are different and individualized as to how it affects their functioning. Therefore, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to determine whether your child may meet/equal the listing or what domains to focus on when presenting the case to the judge.

Reference Link: https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/416/416-0926a.htm

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