Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a national needs-based public benefit program which was established to aid those with limited income and resources who are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled. To receive SSI benefits, an individual essentially must meet the following criteria be age 65 or older, blind, or disabled; be a U.S. citizen or have qualified alien status; reside in the United States; have limited income and resources; and file an application. Thus, the SSI program is not only available to adults who may be disabled and unable to work, but also available to children with disabilities who have limited financial resources at home. However, it is important to note that proving a child is disabled for SSI has different standard and criteria than disabled adults.
Specifically, “under the law, a child is considered disabled for SSI purposes if: he or she has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments); the impairment(s) results in marked and severe functional limitations; and the impairment(s) has lasted (or is expected to last) for at least one year or to result in death.” Moreover, unlike adults, who have the burden to prove their medical impairments would prevent them from being able to maintain full-time employment, child disability cases require an evaluation of their specific functioning to determine disability. Adjudicators consider how the child functions in their activities considering six domains. These domains consider how the child’s functioning is affected during their activities. This includes their mental and physical functioning in activities not only in school, but also at home and in the community. The six domains used for evaluation of a disabled child’s functioning 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 yourself; and 6) health and physical well-being. The evaluation of their ability to function in each domain essentially considers whether their impairments affect their functioning and whether their activities are typical of other children their age who do not have these impairments. Adjudicators consider several different types of evidence including school/teacher records as well as medical records. Overall, proving child disability for SSI benefits has a very specific criteria, and therefore it is important to work with an experienced law firm to better understand the eligibility of your specific child’s case at hand.