Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are two programs, each designed to address the needs for income and long term care for individuals with disabilities. Social Security Disability, or SSD, benefits adults who have been disabled since childhood (prior to age 22). For children, SSD can be paid based on a parent's Social Security earnings record. Determining the amount a person is qualified for under SSD is based on work credits; these are credits that an individual has earned based on their income during years that they were able to work. Unfortunately, this system can fall short for children or adults who have been disabled since childhood, because they do not have sufficient work history to earn the credits necessary to receive assistance.
For children with disabilities and adults who became disabled as children, Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, offers benefits. A child under age 18 can qualify for SSI if he or she has a condition that meets the Social Security definition of a disability. The child must be either working or be earning less than $1,170 per month; the child must have a condition that seriously limits his or her activities, and this condition must have been disabling or expected to be disabling for at least 12 months. The amount your child may receive under SSI will vary from state to state.
Finally, in determining eligibility for SSI, the administration will also consider the income and resources of family members living within the child's household. If the child's household resources are greater than that allowed for SSI, the claim will be denied. It is important to provide detailed information about your child and his or her condition to improve the chances of success on your SSI claim. Further, if such claims are approved they will still need to be reviewed from time to time to assess whether the child still meets the disability requirements. It is important to speak with a lawyer who has experience with SSI claims and can help you understand the process and available options, assist with your application, and advocate on behalf of you and your child.
Source: Social Security Administration, "Benefits For Children With Disabilities," accessed Dec. 7, 2017