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Social Security Disability for Children: Eligibility and Application Process

Raising a child with a disability can be a difficult task. It requires extra care and attention to ensure that your child is receiving the appropriate treatment and support for their condition. Financially speaking, this can be extremely challenging for families given the added costs of medical equipment and care.

Depending on the severity of your child’s disability, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Income (SSI).  

When determining eligibility for SSDI and SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider physical or mental conditions that can be expected to last 12 months or longer.

As to children, if the child is under age 18, in addition to meeting medical eligibility criteria, there are household income restrictions.

After age 18, the child may be eligible to apply for “adult child benefits” if they became disabled by age 22; if the child has not earned any substantial gainful earnings after age 22; and if either parent of the disabled child is receiving Title II benefits (ie. SSDI disability or retirement) or deceased.  It is important to note a child cannot pull off their parents’ earning records as an adult child, if they are married, unless the person they are married to is on some Social Security.

After age 18, the child may be eligible to apply for SSI, if they meet the medical criteria and income criteria.

It is imperative to begin the application process as soon as possible and obtain the necessary medical evidence that will support your child’s disability claim.

Photo of a disabled child's pair of pink shoes while sitting in a wheelchair.

Types of Disabilities Covered

Social Security recognizes a variety of different disabilities that can be covered under SSDI and SSI for children. The severity of these disabilities will be considered before eligibility is granted. Eligible disabilities include:

  • Immune system disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Digestive system disorders
  • Genitourinary disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Hematological disorders
  • Cancer
  • Special senses and speech disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Low birth weight and failure to thrive
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Mental disorders

The Application Process

Here are the steps to follow when applying for SSDI or SSI benefits for children or adult children:

  1. Gather medical evidence verifying your child’s disability.
  2. Collect identification paperwork, such as a birth certificate, Social Security card, as proof of U.S. citizenship or legal status.
  3. Determine the best application method for your child. You can apply:
    • In person at your local Social Security office by appointment.
    • Online at the SSA website.
    • By phone by appointment by Googling the local SSA toll-free #.
  4. Fill out the appropriate forms and submit them to the SSA with all required documents.
  5. Wait for a decision from the SSA. This process usually takes between three and six months but may take longer, depending on your child’s individual case and the needed records.

Medical Evidence and Documentation

Medical evidence and documentation are essential when applying for SSDI and SSI benefits for children and adult children. These records provide proof of your child’s disability, as well as information about the severity and duration of their condition. Medical records should include information such as medical tests, laboratory results, treatments received, doctor’s notes, diagnosis statements from healthcare professionals, and any other relevant information that can support your child’s disability claim.

The role of doctors and healthcare providers is critical when applying for SSDI benefits for children. If your child has a long-term disability, then you should have documentation from their healthcare provider that outlines how the disability is affecting them and will affect them in the future. This can include statements about their prognosis, current and future limitations, and medical treatment plans.

Hiring an Experienced SSDI Attorney for Your Child’s Appeal

Hiring an SSDI attorney who is familiar with filing appeals with success is often a wise decision to navigate the complex appeals process and improve your chances of securing the benefits your child deserves and your family needs.

An experienced SSDI attorney can increase your chances of a successful appeal by leveraging their expertise:

  • Helping you understand the SSDI regulations.
  • Evaluating your case for weaknesses and reasons for denial.
  • Developing a strategic appeals strategy.
  • Gathering necessary medical evidence.
  • Providing legal advocacy and representation.
  • Managing administrative procedures and paperwork.
  • Communicating with the SSA.
  • Preparing you for and representing you through ALJ hearings.
  • Cross-examining vocational experts if needed.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Appealing a denied claim for SSDI or SSI benefits for your child can be a complicated process. It is important to gather all the necessary documents and information before beginning the application process, including substantial medical evidence. To ensure the best chance of success, consider working with an experienced SSDI attorney who can help guide you through the process. If your child has been denied an SSDI claim even though they meet the strict eligibility requirements, contact Arthur Law Firm right away (419) 782-9881 for a free consultation, so we can help you get the compensation your family needs to help you give your disabled child the best care you can.