Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provide benefits to individuals with disabilities.

There are a few different ways children can collect benefits: if they are disabled and low-income, if they have parents who are disabled or retired, or if they are both disabled and have a parent or parents collecting SSDI or retirement income.

Experienced social security disability attorney Michael Hartup serves SSDI applicants in the greater Jackson, Tennessee, area, how SSDI and SSI benefits work for children.

SSI benefits for children with disabilities

Who is eligible?

SSI is a need-based program for individuals with low income and limited resources. Eligible SSI recipients are 65 or older, blind, or disabled.

Children can qualify for SSI if they are:

  • under age 18 or under age 22, regularly attending school as a student;
  • blind or disabled;
  • their income and resources, or the income and resources of their household, fall within the eligibility limits

To qualify as disabled, a child must meet the Social Security’s “blue book” requirements.  If you don’t find your child’s condition on the SSA’s blue book, don’t fret. An experienced disability attorney like Michael Hartup may be able to help.

Applying for SSI benefits for children

When you apply for SSI payments for your child, you must complete an Application for Supplemental Security Income and a Child Disability Report. You’ll be asked for detailed information on their medical condition or conditions and how it affects their quality of life.

Some medical conditions qualify for immediate SSI payments, including:

  • Total blindness
  • Total deafness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Muscular dystrophy

The Social Security Administration (SSA) sends your application to the Disability Determination Services office in your state. Once the state agency reviews the information, they typically take three to five months to decide if your child is eligible for SSI payments. Because SSI is funded by general tax revenues, the amount of SSI payments can vary from state to state.

SSDI benefits for children

Who is eligible?

A child who is not disabled can qualify for SSDI if a parent receives these benefits, or if a parent was entitled to them before they died. This is called “auxiliary benefits” or “dependents benefits.” In some cases, a grandchild or step-grandchild can also be eligible for dependents benefits if there is no living parent.

Children can qualify for dependents benefits if they are:

  • unmarried
  • under age 18, or 18-19 years old and a full-time student no higher than grade 12

If your child is disabled, they can also qualify for SSDI if a parent receives these benefits, or if a parent was entitled to them before they died. They must be 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22. Though in this case they’re legally an adult, it’s considered a “child’s” benefit since it’s paid on a parent’s Social Security record.

Applying for SSDI benefits

When you apply for SSDI benefits, you’ll need to provide information about yourself, such as your Social Security number and medical information. If your child is disabled, you’ll also need to provide information about their medical condition and history. If you are approved for disability benefits, your child can receive up to half of the parent’s full disability benefit.

There’s no average wait time to be approved for disability benefits. It can take fewer than 30 days, or it can take a year or more to complete the process.

The SSA estimates that it takes three to five months to make a decision. Because the SSA requests medical evidence from your doctors, it can depend on how long they take to respond.

Tennessee does not supplement benefits for children, so they will only receive the monthly amount provided by SSDI.

Continuing disability reviews

Whether you receive SSI or SSDI payments, Social Security periodically reviews adults and children to determine if you continue to have a disabling condition.

These disability reviews occur at least every three years for children younger than age 18, whose conditions are expected to improve. For babies receiving SSI payments due to low birth weight, disability reviews begin by age one.

When your child becomes an adult at age 18, the SSA will decide if they can continue to receive disability payments as an adult. Their medical condition will be reviewed, as well as their income and resources.

Let a disability lawyer help your child receive benefits

Though you’re not required to hire a lawyer to file for a child’s disability benefits, there are advantages to having an experienced professional help.

Given the emotional and financial nature of caring for a child with a disability, an experienced disability attorney can help reduce stress and ensure you’ll receive benefits.

It can also make the process go faster: many individuals who apply for benefits may have their initial applications denied due to errors that could have been avoided. If you are denied and you want to appeal the decision, a lawyer can help with that process, too.

The Law Offices of Michael Hartup can help you understand and navigate the disability benefits process in Tennessee, getting you and your child the disability payments you need.

Contact The Law Offices of Michael Hartup online to get started, or call (731) 513-5275 to speak to someone at our Jackson, Tennessee, office.