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SSI for Children
Disabled or blind children can also receive SSI. Your child younger than age 18 can qualify if he or she meets Social Security's definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.
It can take three to five months for the state agency to decide if your child is disabled. However, for some medical conditions, we make SSI payments right away and for up to six months while the state agency decides if your child is disabled.
The following are some conditions that may qualify:
•Severe mental retardation (child age 7 or older); and
•Birth weight below 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
If your child has one of the qualifying conditions, he or she will get SSI payments right away. However, the state agency may finally decide that your child's disability is not severe enough for SSI. If that happens, you will not have to pay back the SSI payments that your child got.
The income and resources of family members living in the child's household can be considered. These rules apply if your child lives at home. They also apply if he or she is away at school but returns home from time to time and is subject to your control. We limit the monthly SSI payment to $30 when a child is in a medical facility where health insurance pays for his or her care.
Social Security's Definition of Disability for Children
Your child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for SSI:
•The child must not be working and earning more than $1,000 a month in 2011. (This earnings amount usually changes every year.) If he or she is working and earning that much money, we will find that your child is not disabled.
•The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in "marked and severe functional limitations." This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit your child's activities.
•The child's condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 12 months; or must be expected to result in death.
If your child's condition(s) results in "marked and severe functional limitations" for at least 12 continuous months, we will find that your child is disabled. But if it does not result in those limitations, or does not last for at least 12 months, we will find that your child is not disabled.
SSI Disability Reviews
Once your child starts receiving SSI, the law requires that we review your child's medical condition from time to time to verify that he or she is still disabled. This review must be done:
•At least every three years for children younger than age 18 whose conditions are expected to improve; and
•By age 1 for babies who are getting SSI payments because of their low birth weight, unless we determine their medical condition is not expected to improve by their first birthday and we schedule the review for a later date.
We may perform a disability review even if your child's condition is not expected to improve. When we do a review, you must present evidence that your child is and has been receiving treatment that is considered medically necessary for your child's medical condition.
What Happens When your Child Turns Age 18
For disability purposes in the SSI program, a child becomes an adult at age 18, and we use different medical and nonmedical rules when deciding if an adult can get SSI disability payments. For example, we do not count the income and resources of family members when deciding whether an adult meets the financial limits for SSI. We count only the adult's income and resources. We also use the disability rules for adults when deciding whether an adult is disabled.
•If your child is already receiving SSI payments, we must review the child's medical condition when he or she turns age 18. We usually do this review during the one-year period that begins on your child's 18th birthday. We will use the adult disability rules to decide whether your 18-year-old is disabled.
•If your child was not eligible for SSI before his or her 18th birthday because you and your spouse had too much income or resources, he or she may become eligible for SSI at age 18.